Research – FAO and the Republic of Korea join forces to reduce foodborne antimicrobial resistance

FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Republic of Korea, through its Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), today signed a new Framework Arrangement which establishes overarching terms and conditions that will govern the cooperation through voluntary contributions and facilitate future negotiations between MFDS and FAO.

The Arrangement focuses on food safety and standard setting, and contains a Contribution Arrangement which will help to simplify the implementation of individual projects.

The Republic of Korea will provide $10 million to help implement and monitor Codex Alimentarius international food standards, with the goal of containing and reducing foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR not only poses a major threat to human and animal health, but also has serious implications for food safety, food security and the economic wellbeing of millions of farming households.

The first project under the Arrangement will be implemented by the Joint FAO/WHO Centre on CODEX Food Standards and Zoonotic Diseases the FAO Division on Food Systems and Food Safety, and will focus on implementing Codex standards to support containment and reduction of foodborne AMR in six countries: Cambodia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal, Bolivia and Colombia.

Signing on behalf of FAO, Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol, praised the Republic of Korea’s continuous interest and effort to increase cooperation with FAO and its deep commitment for the development of international food standards and to the Codex Alimentarius. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important it is to boost international food safety standards to ensure our food keeps travelling safely across borders, safeguarding food and nutritional security. We must transform our agri-food systems to make them more resilient and inclusive if we are to ensure a better food future for all.”

Since joining FAO as a recipient country in 1949, the Republic of Korea has transformed into a major G-20 economy and a dedicated FAO resource partner. The country is a long-standing Member and strong supporter of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets international and regional standards, guidelines and codes of practice. The broad scope of Codex, which covers areas such as contaminants, nutrition, food hygiene, additives, antimicrobial resistance and pesticide and veterinary drug residues, makes it an essential tool to achieve food security and end hunger.

Jinseok Kim, Vice Minister of the MFDS welcomed the new Arrangement as a way to streamline and enhance the long-lasting cooperation between FAO and the Republic of Korea, and, in the years to come, as a basis for both parties to increase interventions within their joint areas of interest.

“Without global collaboration, we cannot overcome the difficulties due to the pandemic and I believe this is why we are here today: to work together,” Vice Minister Kim affirmed. “It is our responsibility to support other countries, and the most effective way to do this is through FAO, the key player in food safety in the UN.  It is essential to continue to move forward, and as of today Korea would like to play a leading role in world food safety.”

The Republic of Korea currently hosts the Codex ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAMR), which is charged with developing science-based guidance on the management of foodborne antimicrobial resistance. The TFAMR is expected to complete its work in 2021.

In addition to hosting the TFAMR and supporting international standard development, the Republic of Korea leads by example in its own efforts to minimize and contain AMR in the food chain, and has expressed a desire to assist other countries in addressing AMR, by supporting the transition from standard-setting to the implementation of Codex guidance, with the collaboration and support of FAO.

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