Sara Langen

Sanchez named 2002 World Food Prize Laureate
Pedro Sanchez received the 2002 World Food Prize in October for his contributions to reducing hunger and malnutrition throughout the developing world by transforming depleted tropical soils into productive agricultural lands.

Former Director General of The International Center for Research in Agroforestry, Sanchez, received the $250,000 award at the World Food Prize conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 24, 2002. The event included a symposium on worldwide water shortages and an award ceremony.

In addition to his work with depleted tropical soils, Sanchez was honored for his critical role in establishing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, which has destroyed millions of acres of rainforest. He was also acknowledged for his work at driving the international effort to establish agroforestry as a means of mitigating global warming by removing millions of tons of CO2 from the air.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize, said that Sanchez’s achievement gives hope that the Green Revolution can finally be extended to Africa. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Sanchez to chair the UN Taskforce on World Hunger as part of the UN Global Millennium Development Project.

WHO/FAO launch acrylamide research site
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have established an acrylamide research update Web site.

The site, www.who.int/fsf/Acrylamide/research.htm, includes a database of researchers/data providers; references for research published elsewhere; information updates about the current status of research efforts; and WHO/FAO updates on information relevant to the health risk of acrylamide in food. Anyone may submit information, and it is hoped that government agencies, research institutions, industry, and others will share information via the network.

UK study indicates health claims confuse consumers
A new study carried out on behalf of the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency found that health claims made on food labels often leave consumers confused or unclear about the properties of the products.

Health claims are of interest and relevance to consumers, but consumer understanding of them is often more partial and confused than they believe it to be, the report states. Because they have other priorities, consumers often respond to the claims on labels in a nonscientific way and look at them “in a wider and often ‘fuzzy’ context.”

The agency commissioned the research following discussions on a draft European Commission proposal for European Union legislation to control the use of health claims in food labeling. In the UK, health claims are not subject to specific national rules. The agency currently supports a self-regulatory Joint Health Claims Initiative developed by industry, consumer groups, and law enforcement bodies, which defines good practice and establishes a system for validation of claims.

The agency’s research report, which will be made available to the European Commission and Member States, will contribute to development of ideas for a regulatory regime that takes full account of the need to provide health messages in a form that is properly understood by consumers. For more information, visit www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/98783.

by SARA LANGEN
Assistant Editor