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EU and FAO team up against food waste and AMR

EU Commissioner of Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva agreed to ratchet up collaboration between the 2 organisations to address food waste, food safety, and antimicrobial resistance in supply chains.

In a new letter of intent signed on September 29, 2017, FAO and the EU pledge to work closely together to halve per capita food waste by 2030, a goal established under the new Sustainable Development Goals global agenda. It also commits them to intensified cooperation on tackling the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on farms and in food systems.

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AMR: A growing threat

Globally, one-third of all food produce for human consumption - 1.3 billion tonnes - is lost or wasted, each year, causing massive financial losses while squandering natural resources. In Europe alone, around 88 million tonnes of food is wasted each year, with associated costs estimated at €143 billion, according to EU estimates. Meanwhile, the increased use - and abuse - of antimicrobial medicines in both human and animal healthcare has contributed to an increase in the number of disease-causing microbes that are resistant to antimicrobial medicines used to treat them, like antibiotics. This makes AMR a growing threat that could lead to as many as 10 million deaths a year and over $100 million in losses to the global economy by 2050, according to some studies. In addition to public health risks, AMR has implications for food safety as well as the economic well-being of millions of farming households across the globe.

AMR is a growing threat that could lead to as many as 10 million deaths a year and over $100 million in losses to the global economy by 2050, according to some studies. Photo: Dreamstime
AMR is a growing threat that could lead to as many as 10 million deaths a year and over $100 million in losses to the global economy by 2050, according to some studies. Photo: Dreamstime

Natural allies

Today's strengthened partnership reflects the intersection of FAO and EU priorities in the realm of food safety and food security. FAO is leading an international effort to improve global measurement of food loss and waste, including the publication of an Annual Global Food Loss Index; the European Commission is also working to develop a methodology for measuring food waste as part of its "Action Plan for the Circular Economy". FAO is already an active member of the EU's Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. In June, the EU Commission adopted a new EU Action Plan on AMR, underpinned by a One Health Approach and fully in line with the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR and the FAO Action Plan on AMR 2016-2020, which focuses specifically tackling the problem within food chains.

Author: FAO

One comment

  • David Burch

    It would be interesting to know how many of the 10 million forecasted to die will be associated either by diseases caught from animals and food or by the transfer of resistance genes from bacteria of animal origin. If we look at resistance transfer of ESBLs (3rd and 4th cephalosporins) in the EU, it is approximately 0.27%. This means that 99.73% of likely mortality will be due to or associated with human use of antibiotics. Has the EU or FAO quantified the proportions?

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