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Smith Emphasises Central Role of Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policy in Addressing Global Challenges

Addressing delegates at the Annual General Meeting of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Environment, Food and Global Health in Dublin Castle, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD highlighted the key role of a sustainable food and agriculture policy in addressing the inter-related global challenges of climate change, population growth and water scarcity.

"A dangerous combination of climate change, population growth, and water scarcity now threatens all our futures. Coming up with effective policy measures to address these challenges, across a whole spectrum of state and private sector activities, and at local, national, European and global levels, will determine the quality of our children's lives. Sustainable food and agriculture policy will play a key role in this".

The Minister said that the papers being presented to the conference addressed the relationship between the environment we live in, the policies we follow, and public health.  "This meeting has a strong track record in presenting the research that has set the agendas, and it is no small part due to your group that the adverse health effects associated with pollution of the air or water supply or contamination of the food chain are becoming better understood each year".

Minister Smith welcomed the focus of the conference on how to ensure long term food supply security in a world of rapid climate change.  He emphasised the importance of Ireland's agriculture and food sector to our economy and pointed out that building on high standards of food safety the industry had developed a reputation as a first class world supplier of quality dairy, meat, seafood and other foodstuffs to some 140 markets worldwide.

"Our grass fed beef, and grass based dairy industry, differentiate us from many of our competitors on the global stage, and point the way towards a competitive advantage based on very high quality and sustainable production". 

NOTE FOR EDITORS

This is the first visit of the ISEE to Ireland, and it is the biggest scientific meeting being held in Ireland in 2009. Over 750 delegates from almost 70 countries will be in Ireland for the next 5 days, with an estimated 1 million Euros direct gain to the economy. The theme of this the 21st AGM of the society is 'Environment, Food and Global Health'.

Date Released: 25 August 2009