New EASAC report from European science academies calls for urgent action on food and nutrition security


New EASAC report from European science academies calls for urgent action on food and nutrition security

As part of an unprecedented InterAcademy Partnership project by 130 science academies, a team of scientists from across Europe undertook a two-year, extensive analysis.

PR Newswire

HALLE, Germany, Dec. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Scientists from national academies across Europe are calling for urgent action on food and nutrition in a new rigorous and independent report published today by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC). This thorough analysis has implications for policy-makers working on food, nutrition, health, the environment, climate change, and agriculture. Combating malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies as well as overweight and obesity – is a problem faced by all countries. Research and innovation will be central to finding solutions to these local-global and multidisciplinary, interconnected challenges. Evidence must underpin the policies that deliver Europe’s future approach to these issues. The report recommends being more ambitious in identifying and using scientific opportunities: how the current evidence base can shape understanding of both supply- and demand-side challenges, and how the research agenda should be defined, including basic research, to fill knowledge gaps.

Climate change will have negative impacts on food systems, necessitating the introduction of climate-smart agriculture such as the adoption of plant breeding innovations to cope with drought. Agriculture and current diets also contribute substantially to climate change. Mitigating this contribution depends on climate-smart food systems such as land-sparing and agronomic management practices together with efforts to influence consumer behaviours associated with excessive agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, including the overconsumption of calories and meat. Changing dietary consumption could bring co-benefits to health and to climate change.

Top line findings by the panel of scientists include:

Food consumption will need to change to improve consumer health:

  • For both human health and the environment, food consumption patterns will need to change. It is important to explore individual responsiveness to nutrition and the links to health, and to consider the particular needs of vulnerable groups.
  • As part of the changes to food consumption patterns, a decrease in the consumption of animal protein could be important for both health and the environment.
  • The authors call for policy-makers to tackle the perverse price incentives to consume high-calorie diets and to introduce new incentives for affordable nutrition.
  • More clarity is needed about how to measure sustainability related to consumption of healthy diets.
  • Sources of food contamination must be characterized and tackled to reduce food safety concerns.
  • European countries must commit to collection of more robust data on the extent of waste in food systems and the effectiveness of interventions to reduce waste at local and regional levels. Novel approaches to processing food and reducing waste will be central to achieving the Circular Economy and Bioeconomy policy objectives.

Farming and agriculture have significant impacts on human health and the environment:

  • The authors call for a revamp of the Common Agricultural Policy to focus on financing innovation rather than solely subsidies to farmers. Europe must find innovative ways to support agriculture and meet its international responsibilities. Agricultural sciences play a key role in European competitiveness and for a sustainable bioeconomy, and the authors urge a rebalancing of commitments.
  • Europe is dependent on food and animal feed imports to meet its needs. This dependence leaves it vulnerable to trade issues and market fluctuations. It also increases Europe’s footprint in many developing countries that will be most affected by climate change and environmental degradation. There is much to be done to understand determinants of market volatility and fair trade, and to increase resilience.
  • The role of the livestock sector in greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation is a major issue. Changes to livestock management practices (e.g. sustainable intensification of production) could contribute to GHG mitigation. More significant adjustments may require changing the demand for livestock products.
  • Alternatives to traditional forms of animal protein that Europe could consider include: food from the oceans, lab-grown meat, and insects. Research is needed on how to increase consumer acceptance of innovative foods and diets. There are significant opportunities to increase food from the oceans by improving the knowledge base for sustainable harvesting, including at lower trophic levels.
  • Meat that is cultured in vitro, may have a lower environmental impact than livestock and this potential must also be examined as part of the research agenda.
  • More effort is warranted to understand the functions of soil in carbon sequestration and in biodiversity, and for the bioeconomy.

Europe should not stall on opportunities offered by genome editing, precision agriculture and the use of large data sets:

  • Breakthroughs in genome editing and other genetic research will be crucial to the future of food and agriculture in Europe. The authors call on European policy-makers to capitalise on the scientific advances in genomics for animal health and productivity, and for crops.
  • For plants as for animals, it is important to protect and characterise wild gene pools and to continue sequencing and functional assessment to unveil the potential of genetic resources.
  • Precision agriculture offers many opportunities to improve productivity with reduced environmental impact. Large data sets are a vital tool to support innovation throughout the food system and prepare for risk and uncertainty.

Underpinning all of the scientists’ recommendations is a clear call to integrate research and innovation into all of these topics, where many questions remain from a scientific perspective. An evidence-based food systems approach that integrates all of these issues is recommended. Europe must capitalise on opportunities to co-design research across disciplines to understand better the nexus food-water-other ecosystem services and to inform the better coordination of relevant policy instruments, including the Common Agricultural Policy, Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive. Efforts to increase food systems’ efficiency should not focus on increasing agricultural productivity by ignoring environmental costs.

Notes to editors

This report is a part of a global project led by the InterAcademy Partnership and will be joined by three complementary reports focusing on the Americas, Africa, and Asia which will be published in the first quarter of 2018. This global project has been supported by 130 science academies. The global comparative report will be published in mid-2018. The networks of science academies involved in the project are grateful for the financial support provided by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Media Contact:Robin Fears, EASAC, 44 (0) 7597 308284,

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SOURCE European Academies’ Science Advisory Council

OCO Global Selected as Exclusive Partner for Department for International Trade’s North America Trade and Export Programme

OCO Global Selected as Exclusive Partner for Department for International Trade’s North America Trade and Export Programme

PR Newswire

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, December 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —

Leading economic development and trade advisory firm, OCO Global (OCO), has been selected as the exclusive partner for the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) to support UK companies as they explore expansion opportunities in North America.

OCO will provide a wide range of trade support services to both new and experienced exporters, as it works with DIT to help boost the UK’s overall export target.

As part of the programme, which is nationwide and across all sectors, OCO will also travel to UK regions to highlight the opportunities in North America to UK companies.

CEO of OCO Global, Mark OConnell said: “Helping UK businesses to export has never been more important and we’re delighted to be working with DIT to make it easier for companies to reach new opportunities for growth in the United States and Canada. There is significant untapped potential in these markets and growing demand for UK goods and services.”  

North America is currently the UK’s most significant export market outside of the EU, and OCO expects it to become more important in the context of the emerging post-Brexit landscape.

Mark continues: “We are seeing an increase in UK businesses looking to expand to North America across multiple sectors including ICT, education, media and consumer, and we expect to see this trend continue.”

OCO, which uses its global network to make it faster and easier for SMEs to set up new operations overseas, has a specialist team of 10 in the US and plans to add capacity to meet increased demand.

Minister for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Rona Fairhead said: “Our partnership with OCO global will give UK businesses the tools they need to seize exciting opportunities in the United States and Canada – from export advice and industry connections, to visit programmes and events. The USA is already the top destination for British goods and services and as an international economic department, we will continue to support businesses in exporting across the Atlantic as part of our mission to become a global Britain.”

Through its work with DIT to date, OCO has assisted more than 400 UK businesses looking to expand to North America and connected more than 650 UK exporters to opportunities.

Notes to editors 

About OCO Global 

OCO Global is the leading advisory firm in Europe for Trade and Investment Services and works with businesses to guide their expansion internationally through export and FDI. OCO offers a one stop, full service solution for companies working with a range of trusted business partners to make it fast and easy to set up new operations and expand quickly. The company is the appointed provider of the UK Government to support UK businesses entering the European market. OCO Global also works with many US companies supporting their expansion into Europe and Asia. OCO Global is a leading specialist provider of Trade and Investment services including Market Entry Support, business intelligence for Trade and Investment, trade mission support, business development, advisory, trends analysis and software solutions. Headquartered in Northern Ireland, OCO has offices in leading markets globally including UK, Germany, France, Japan, the UAE and the US. OCO’s clients include leading national, state and regional economic development organizations as well as private companies seeking to enter new markets or grow their domestic base.

About the Department for International Trade  

  1. The Department for International Trade (DIT) secures UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.We are an international economic department, responsible for:
    • bringing together policy, promotion and financial expertise to break down barriers to trade and investment, and help businesses succeed
    • delivering a new trade policy framework for the UK as we leave the EU
    • promoting British trade and investment across the world
    • building the global appetite for British goods and services
  2. There have been more than 2.4 million visits to and more than 3,300 UK businesses have already registered on the government’s Find a Buyer service to match UK businesses to worldwide demand.
  3.  The Exporting is GREAT (EIG) campaign inspires and supports UK businesses to sell their goods and services overseas. At UK businesses can apply for real-time global export opportunities, access expert advice, trade services, training and events. 


Viapass: As of January 1st, Semi-trailer Towing Vehicles of Under 3.5 Tons GVW are Subject to Kilometer Charge


Viapass: As of January 1st, Semi-trailer Towing Vehicles of Under 3.5 Tons GVW are Subject to Kilometer Charge

PR Newswire

BRUSSELS, November 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —

As of January 1st semi-trailer towing vehicles of under or equal to 3.5 tons GVW with a body code BC will be subject to Kilometer Charge in Belgium. They must have a switched-on On Board Unit (OBU) when driving on public roads in Belgium.

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These semi-trailer towing vehicles are designed to transport goods. They consist of a cabin and a linking plate for adding a trailer, resulting in a Gross Vehicle Weight of over 3.5 tons. By design, these vehicles are only meant to transport goods. They differ from vans with a tow bar to which a trailer can be coupled optionally. Here you can find some illustrative pictures and a poster on the new measure.

The three Belgian regions have decided to make this category of vehicles subject to the kilometer charge in Belgium as of January 1st 2018. This means they must have an OBU aboard that is constantly switched-on when driving on Belgian public roads. They will be billed per kilometer driven on paying toll roads to an amount related to their weight and exhaust norm.

Vehicle owners who are not yet accustomed to the procedure will find information on the way to order and install an OBU on the website of http://www.viapass.beHere they can find an exhaustive Q&A document which clarifies the most common questions. An example video regarding semi-trailer vehicles of under 3.5 tons is to be found at Viapass’ YouTube channel.

OBU’s can be ordered at service providers accredited by Viapass or at distribution machines on one of the 128 service points in Belgium and at the borders (

About Viapass  

Viapass is an interregional public organization which coordinates and controls the Kilometer Charge for HWVs in Belgium. It controls the compliance of the Kilometer Charge and the good functioning of the infrastructure. Viapass looks into the correct transit of data and money streams and takes care of the coordination between the service providers and joint communication regarding the Kilometer Charge.


SOURCE Viapass