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US-China collaboration will have ‘significant impact’ on food safety

Post a commentBy RJ Whitehead , 28-Jul-2014

A Californian college has joined with one of China’s leading agricultural universities in the first step to establishing a Sino-US food safety research centre.

Last week, officials from the University of California, Davis, and from China’s Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University signed a memorandum of agreement for the new facility in Shaanxi province.

"We are incredibly pleased to join forces with Northwest A&F University and look forward to making discoveries and realising solutions that will promote food safety in China and around the world,” said UC Davis chancellor Linda PB Katehi.

The five-year memorandum of agreement calls for the centre's two lead universities to form a joint research team, carry out collaborative research projects and cooperate on other food safety-related studies. 

UC Davis' World Food Centre will identify a director to coordinate the research programme. The Chinese partners will provide substantial funding for the new centre, with details to be announced later this year.

Food safety will benefit

"With UC Davis' commitment to food safety research and China's ever-increasing demand for food, the Joint Research Centre is a natural partnership," said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. 

"Food safety will benefit from global scientific collaboration, and new findings will help the food and agriculture sector meet new challenges, improve the health of consumers and maintain the integrity of the global food supply chain." 

Roger Beachy, executive director of the UC Davis World Food Centre, noted that the new food safety facility would be a progression of the well-established research collaboration between scientists from UC Davis and China.

"Working closely with Chinese scientists and policymakers, the new centre will have a significant impact on food safety in China and elsewhere around the globe," he said.

The catalyst for the new collaborative effort was a visit to China last autumn by Chancellor Katehi, during which Chinese officials and UC Davis alumni identified food safety as a topic of key importance for China. 

Collaborative research

Beachy, who has longstanding ties with China's research community, became head of the World Food Centre in January and has shepherded the collaborative agreement for UC Davis.

The Joint Research Centre for Food Safety will promote international collaborative research and extension for food safety in China and the US. It will conduct research on global food safety-related policies, establish a high-level platform for food safety research, propose solutions for food hazards and develop models for implementation of international food safety standards and risk management. 

"The food industry has become the largest industry in China; and food safety is a critical area for China and the US to have creative cooperation and learn from each other," said Zhang Laiwu, China's vice minister of science and technology. 

"It not only involves technologies, but also policies and management. The fruitful cooperation will also be important to ensure food security."

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