Food, health and sustainability the urgent need for joint and proactive public policy action

16 October 2023
Elio Riboli - CP EGEA 2923

On the occasion of World Food Day on Monday 16 October, and while the European
Commission has confirmed the postponement of several key pieces of legislation of the Green
Deal related to sustainable food, Aprifel (the Agency for Research and Information in Fruit
and Vegetables), its President Christel Teyssedre, and the co-chairs of the EGEA conference,
Elio Riboli, Professor of Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention at Imperial College London,
and Joël Doré, Research Director at INRAE, are calling public authorities for concrete actions
for a healthy and sustainable diet accessible to all based on f ruit and vegetables.

Scientific findings are clear and alarming: climate crisis, uncontrolled increase of obesity and chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, as well as lack of food and nutrition education, lack of access to healthy food, especially fruit and vegetables, harmful influence of food marketing, etc. It has never been more urgent to act and adopt common and proactive food strategies for the benefit of health and of the planet.

Within the «One Health» approach, Aprifel and the co-presidents of EGEA call on the public authorities
to implement robust policies for healthy and sustainable food, accessible to all
. The French and European health and food systems must converge towards innovative social, environmental, and public health prevention system. Consequently, governments must urgently take action to introduce meaningful change, securing that the simplest and most obvious choice for individuals are also the most sustainable.

Urgent need for a systemic approach to food

The 9th edition of EGEA, which took place from 20 to 22 September 2023, provided a transversal and
multidisciplinary perspective on food-related themes. The positive role of fruits and vegetables for human health, sustainability, food security and social, economic, and environmental impacts was highlighted. Nearly 150 scientists and stakeholders, particularly from major international bodies (WHO, FAO, OECD, research organizations, etc.)took stock of the state of knowledge. Solutions, recommendations, actions and priorities for a sustainable foodsystem placing fruit and vegetables at the heart of the «One Health» concept were put forward. The conference highlighted the urgency of concerted actions for the benefit of sustainable and resilient food systems and better health of individuals and society.

Mozaique EGEA 2023

Acting quickly and early by moving from a «curative/restorative» logic to real prevention is a must both in terms of health or sustainability. To achieve this, several tools were identified. Generating and sharing reliable data and results based on scientific evidence will be key as well as fostering food and nutrition education at all ages of life. Setting up actions with local actors in order to achieve concrete, realistic solutions adapted to the needs and particularities of the territory will also be essential for a successful outreach. The 9th edition of the EGEA conference was a key milestone for changes and stress the urgency for a coherent global approach to food, transversal to all sectors and scientific disciplines, so that policies and societal actions are coherent and synergistic.

About EGEA

Created in 2003 under the permanent chairmanship of Professor Elio Riboli (Imperial College, London), EGEA is a unique international conference designed to engage in dialogue and reflection between the scientific community and stakeholders. Its goal is to make concrete, evidence-based recommendations for practice and policy change. Organized by Aprifel, the 9th edition of EGEA focused for 3 days on the theme: «Food, fruits and vegetables and global health: what contributions?». It was an opportunity for nearly 150 scientists and stakeholders, particularly from major international bodies (WHO, FAO, OECD, research organizations, etc.), to shed light on these food-related themes such as human health, the environment, food safety and social impacts.

About Aprifel