Single agency needed to cater food safety
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (7 March) -- With about six overlapping agencies that individually oversee food safety as part of the many functions of the office, Senator Edgardo Angara has challenged Mindanao stakeholders to unify all policies and allow a single agency to handle food safety concerns.
This was drawn out from the senator during the 1st Mindanao Conference on Existing and Emerging Issues n Food Safety held yesterday at the Grand Regal Hotel, Davao City.
"There seems to be so plenty of overlapping agencies that are concerned about food safety. However, what we really need is a single agency that could focus on this concern and harmonize all the policies for proper implementation in the local level." Angara said.
The agencies involved in ensuring the safety of food are the Bureau of Food and Drugs, Department of Health, National Food Authority, Department of Agriculture, National Meat Inspection Commission, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, and The National Consumer Affairs Council Department of Trade and Industry.
"I don't think we can achieve our goal of securing food safety in this country unless we unify all our efforts, our policies by coming up with a single office that would man over the food security system," he said.
As for the right agency to handle this responsibility, he simply gave the decision making to the different stakeholders present in the said conference.
"It's all up to them to thresh out this particular concern. All I am telling them is my willingness to support any proposal that you have drawn from this forum," he said.
Angara stressed that during his stint as the secretary of the Department of Agriculture, this was his advocacy; however, it did not push through after his administration.
He said that food safety remains a priority in the list of concerns especially in Mindanao because Mindanao has been propelled as the country's food basket. A slight problem on food security such as food contamination would greatly affect the food supply in the domestic and even in the international market as most of the food produced in Mindanao is being exported.
The said conference was initiated after learning a very low level of food security awareness amongst the people in Mindanao.
The different government agencies handling food security advocacy are still faced by the challenge of making people more aware of the importance of food security the same degree as how they have regarded peace and order concerns.
Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza, who was also around during the conference, explained that that "any situation of unstable food security could create situations of unpeace".
"We could directly link food security to poverty which gives the latter a direct correlation to peace situation," he said.
He then urged all stakeholders to be very keen and active in promoting food security as this is a very sensitive area development in Mindanao which is an agri-business region in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's super region program. (PIA) [top]