International trade is a very important tool for tackling hunger but countries must also guarantee that globally traded food is of good quality, safe and healthy, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said this at the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade that was held at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva (23-24 April).
"Many countries depend heavily on food imports to guarantee the availability of food for their people," Graziano da Silva said. "Unfortunately, unhealthy ultra-processed food fares better in international trade in terms of transportation and conservation than non-processed food".
He noted that trade in such products has already contributed to a substantial increase in the proportion of obese people in countries that import most of their food, such as the Pacific and Caribbean Islands.
The FAO Director-General called on international community to advance the establishment of trade rules and regulations that encourage the consumption of healthy and nutritious foods.
Addressing the forum, the FAO Director-General said that food safety cannot be only about preventing people from getting food poisoning or falling sick due to food-borne illnesses, but must also address multiple health risks associated with poor diets.
In his remarks, Graziano da Silva also highlighted the role of unified food safety standards in ensuring fair trade practices.