The production and consumption of food present a complex range of challenges for our planet. Environmental factors such as climate change, environmental pollution and loss of biodiversity and social factors such as inequality, public health, food safety and animal health and welfare must all be taken into consideration.
From 4 to 6 September, Wageningen Campus is hosting the annual Food Chain Analysis Network conference of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). At the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and Wageningen University & Research, 50 experts from 16 countries will discuss the role of government policy in tackling this complex challenge.
Food system approach and innovation
Researchers from Wageningen Economic Research wrote a reflection paper in which they argue for the integration of food system thinking in policy design, as current challenges require a broader perspective than reasoning from the traditional vertical food chain context alone. To enable our society to develop innovative solutions, it is important to consider the entire web of related activities such as agriculture, health, environmental protection and education in a coherent manner. The food system approach is ideally suited to address this in an integrated way.
Circular agriculture and the transition of the food system
The Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality's vision for circular agriculture is defined by the sustainable use and re-use of raw materials and is based on the interconnectedness of sectors. In the reflection paper, the researchers also discuss the need for government policy to promote the transition to sustainable agriculture and to stimulate the innovations required for this. Many sustainable initiatives are currently frustrated by existing economic structures or vested interests. A food system analysis can help to determine how and where the most effective stimulus can be given.
Using six examples from the Netherlands, the researchers illustrate how innovation in the food system not only adds economic, but also social and environmental value. The cases of the Beter Leven (better life) quality mark, Care Farming, Green Protein Alliance, the Nationaal Preventieplan (national prevention agreement), Eco-schemes for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Rondeel eggs show that initiatives by a single party or group can grow into products with a considerable impact. For example, the market share of products with a Beter Leven quality mark has risen to 28% within the market for sustainability-certified products since the start in 2011.
OECD Food Chain Analysis Network
The Food Chain Analysis Network (FCAN) is an expert group of the OECD Committee for Agriculture and was founded in 2010 in a joint initiative in which the Netherlands played a significant role. FCAN is a platform where national experts from ministries or research institutes meet to discuss various topics that play a role in the food chain, such as food waste and losses, the relationship between food and health and the formation of power in the food chain. The insights of FCAN are used to support the work of the OECD Committee for Agriculture in the field of food and agricultural policy.
Wageningen University & Research: synergy between fundamental and applied research
Wageningen University & Research works on the development of knowledge and technology to sustainably contribute to global food security by producing sufficient and safe food, mitigating and adapting to climate change, developing a circular economy, protecting biodiversity and reducing poverty. New insights and solutions are developed in dialogue with the international community and by stimulating synergies between fundamental and applied research.