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A core goal within IFT’s strategic plan is To be a global citizen and partner, proactively contributing to and partnering with organizations for the global advancement of food science.
I cannot do justice to the topic without first recognizing the truly exceptional accomplishments of IFT past president Phil Nelson, who will receive this year’s World Food Prize this month for developing innovative technologies that revolutionized the bulk storage and global transport of food products.
Nelson’s research significantly reduced postharvest waste and greatly increased the availability of nutritious food worldwide. His work and dedication to our profession epitomizes the meaning of being a “global citizen and partner.”
Our food supply has become more global than ever before. Its safety and quality depend heavily on ingredients produced around the globe and on processes, events, issues, and actions taking place thousands of miles away. Many food companies are now truly international businesses, employing food scientists all around the world. In addition, about 20% of IFT’s members live outside the United States.
In his book, If the World Was a Village, David Smith states that half of Earth’s population suffers from malnutrition. Three billion people live without safe food and water, and increasing numbers of people live with the consequences of obesity, food allergies, diabetes, and other food-related diseases.
A quick review of our global landscape places food and water at the forefront of all the challenges we face, including demographic changes, environmental issues, natural resources, land availability, energy shortage, societal impact, religious beliefs, and others.
So how is IFT conducting its global outreach efforts? Let’s begin with examining our long-range vision: To ensure a safe and abundant food supply for healthier people everywhere. Many of you are aware of the challenges we face today, both domestically and overseas, in our global food science and technology landscape. However, you may not be aware of the efforts IFT has already made to support our long-range vision and ultimately our strategic goal of being a valued global citizen and partner.
IFT and the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) have organized summits designed to further develop and encourage collaboration among scientists from the U.S. and China. The 4th Food Summit, “Better Living Through Food Science, Food Safety and Food Standards,” will take place this November 11–13 in Huangzhou, China. In addition, IFT and CIFST are planning to publish the first issue of Food Technology —China Edition next year.
China was also a focus during IFT’s 2007 Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Chicago, where IFT co-hosted the 2007 Global Chinese Health Food Symposium with the Chinese American Food Society. The symposium highlighted the work of cutting-edge researchers from around the globe who have made important contributions to Chinese food in such areas as biotechnology, functionality, safety, regulation, and process technology.
IFT also continues valuable collaboration efforts with the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Food Science and Technology, including involvement in ALACCTA’s II Caribbean Food Safety Congress this fall.
IFT’s International Division also partnered with ALACCTA on two symposia, “Food Safety Challenges and Foodborne Disease Surveillance” and “Food Safety Implementation: Case Studies” during this year’s IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo.
An alliance of IFT with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and Japan’s National Food Research Institute continues to navigate through applications of nanoscale science in food product and process development. IFT cosponsored the October 2006 Nano4Food Conference, which discussed nanotechnology applications in the food industry.
And the 2nd International Food Nanotechnology Conference held during IFT’s Annual Meeting & Food Expo this year covered the state of the art of worldwide nanoscale science and technology and applications to the food system.
These are just a few notable global efforts that show how IFT is working to make our global village a better place for everyone. Although we are making noteworthy progress with our current partnerships and global alliances, it is imperative that we do more.
Now is the time to bring our collective energy and capabilities together, support the goals of our strategic plan, and navigate our profession through the challenges and toward the opportunities that lie ahead.
Let’s work together to improve the lives of people around the globe.
by John D. Floros,
IFT President, 2007–08
Professor and Head, Food Science Dept.,
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.