Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Watching what we eat: food systems in Europe

16.11.2007
Food has never been more of a global commodity than it is today. But there is an urgent need to understand the problems that face future European food supplies within this global market. And so scientists and policy makers gathered in Budapest last week to push for a more holistic approach to the study of what Europeans eat.

The conference, supported by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST), looked at where food comes from, the ways in which it is processed, packaged and distributed, and how it is sold and eventually eaten.

Scientists at the conference showed that Europeans sitting down at their dinner tables are eating a broader range of meats and vegetables than ten years ago. Europeans demand that their food tastes better, makes them healthier and can be prepared in less time, and yet they want this food available year round at a low price. To meet these needs, food travels many more miles; along much more complicated distribution routes than ever before on its journey from the farm to our forks.

"This requires a new approach to describing food supply. We're advocating a food systems approach", says Thomas Henrichs, a senior advisor for the National Environment Research Institute in Denmark. "The food systems approach includes not only the activities involved in food supply, such as growing and processing a green bean and packing it for distribution, and shipping it, but also the outcomes of eating the green bean on the environment, on the economy and on the health and welfare of the person eating it", explains Henrichs.

One reason to better understand the European food system is the growth in global markets-the Chinese are eating more meat, and a large market for dairy products is opening up on the Indian subcontinent. "Until recently, Europe has invested intensively in its food system in relative isolation", explains Rudy Rabbinge, professor in sustainable development and food systems at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. "But Europe must change its food system to take advantage of these new markets", he says.

And with Europe's share of global exports predicted to drop from 24 percent to 20 percent over the next 10 years, Europe needs to become more efficient to compete in a global market. Scientists hope that by encouraging different industries within the food chain to think about the food system as a whole, they can increase overall efficiency.

Changes to Europe's own food market is another reason to better understand the European food system. An aging European population brings different health demands that could be met-in part-by altering the food they eat. Migration of people into the EU has changed European food tastes, customs and traditions, and increased wealth gives Europeans the means to buy more meat. Furthermore, longer workdays and the entry of women into the workplace has left many Europeans with little time to prepare food, resulting in a reliance on 'ready-meals'. One consequence of this is an average meal contains more ingredients that have travelled further and require more packaging.

Finally, changing energy consumption and the threat of climate change will force Europeans to think about how efficiently they produce and consume food. By studying food systems, scientists hope to understand the socioeconomic, political, and cultural influences on what Europeans eat. And policy makers can use this knowledge to steer how Europe manages the food chain-starting in the field and ending in the stomach-to ensure that all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs.

Thomas Lau | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit
21.08.2017 | Hokkaido University

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>