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Developing a communication toolkit on food biotechnologies

Proceedings of the 2020 technical consultation meetings










​FAO. 2020. Developing a communication toolkit on food biotechnologies - Proceedings of the 2020 technical consultation meetings. Rome. 



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    Book (stand-alone)
    Stock-taking report: food biotechnology communication materials in the world
    Background paper for the 2020 technical consultation meetings on developing a communication toolkit about food biotechnologies
    2020
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    During the Global Community Meeting on the FAO GM Foods Platform, held in September 2019, many participants expressed the strong need for a set of impartial and science-based communication materials that would address the communication challenges at a national level around food biotechnologies. To address this need, FAO, in collaboration with Kenya’s National Biosafety Authority and scientific and consumer education/communication experts, initiated the process of developing a communication toolkit on food biotechnologies. The toolkit is to be used by governmental agencies that assess the safety of foods derived from biotechnologies to better communicate with the general public. The toolkit will contain a series of guiding documents with various sample materials. The target users of the toolkit itself are the food safety and biosafety competent authorities in the government sector, whereas the sample materials are for the general public. A step-by-step approach has been planned to develop the sample materials with the first steps being the analysis of existing consumer education and communication materials worldwide, the identification of gaps in the information that is needed for consumers to gain a better understanding, and the selection of consumer education and communication materials to be used as a basis to develop sample materials. This document summarizes these initial steps.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Handbook - using the information toolkit
    Information toolkit on food biotechnologies with a focus on food safety
    2021
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    A number of questions and concerns about food biotechnologies have been raised, and governments are expected to address them in an effective and timely manner. However, providing science-based but easy-to-digest answers requires a certain level of understanding of the subject and good communication skill sets, therefore preparedness is key. During the Global Community Meeting of the FAO GM Foods Platform in 2019, the strong need for a set of science-based information materials was expressed at a global level to support the generation of communication strategies and materials which could help to address the public communication challenges surrounding food biotechnologies at a national level. The present FAO Information toolkit on food biotechnologies with a focus on food safety serves as a basis to assist countries in addressing the general public’s concerns on food biotechnology and food safety, to support them in raising awareness of the science of food biotechnologies and food safety and to inform discussions and decisions. It consists of one handbook providing an instruction manual for the whole set of documents and ten booklets, referred to as tools, and which cover background information, general information on the scientific aspects of food biotechnologies and food safety, the rationale behind the claimed benefits of genetically modified (GM) foods, GM food safety assessments and regulations. The tools also touch upon aspects related to human health and the environment, the practical uses and applications, the recent developments and innovations, possibilities to engage with the public.
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    Booklet
    Food safety aspects of cell-based food
    Report of the publication launch webinar, 7 April 2023
    2024
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    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) held a webinar to launch the publication entitled “Food safety aspects of cell-based food” published in April 2023. The webinar was attended by a total of 1 015 participants from more than 75 countries.Cell-based food production involves culturing animal cells in a controlled environment to produce various types of food products. As this technology is constantly evolving, it is important for food safety authorities to keep up with science in order to understand how the products are developed and what food safety considerations are relevant when taking regulatory actions. The webinar included a lecture on the subject by the chairperson of the FAO-led expert consultation, who introduced the contents of the FAO/WHO publication and presented the results of the first global food safety hazard identification of cell-based food. Experts reported that most of the hazards identified were common to conventional food products and emphasized the importance for food safety competent authorities to focus on the materials, inputs and equipment specific to cell-based food production.Two regulatory experts from the governments of Singapore and Qatar took part in the webinar to introduce the case studies of their respective countries’ regulatory frameworks. These case studies illustrated the commonly held idea that a food safety assessment is one of the first steps within the regulatory frameworks presented in the case studies, despite the fact that other elements within the framework may be different. This was borne out by subsequent panel discussions with six panellists from Argentina, Australia, Qatar, Singapore, the United States of America and Zambia who all concurred that a food safety assessment provides a crucial starting point. All panellists emphasized the importance of the FAO/WHO publication as an invaluable source of technical information in this regard, particularly as it lists potential hazards that regulators can draw on. The publication also contains vital information on nomenclature and useful advice on ways to effectively communicate this topic to the public.The webinar included an interactive discussion session with the participants, during which basic food safety and regulatory questions were raised. FAO and WHO concluded the webinar with the offer to provide technical assistance to those countries in need of it.

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