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Experts to collaborate on national food policy at U of Guelph this week

guelphmercury.com, Sep 11, 2017 

The University of Guelph is hosting a regional session with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on Tuesday, Sept. 12 with a goal of helping develop a national policy that ensures safe and affordable food while protecting the environment. 

The session is a first-of-its-kind initiative, announced by the federal government this past spring, and will set short- and long-term goals for Canada’s food system, said a news release.

Similar public consultations are being held across the country. U of G’s session will include experts from across campus and Ontario, as well as government officials, including Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield and Kim Rudd, parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Natural Resources.

“The University of Guelph, as Canada’s food university, has much to contribute in helping develop a national food policy,” said Daniel Atlin, vice-president (external), in the news release.

“We have a long history in agri-food and a reputation for innovation and excellence, in Canada and around the world, in food-related issues. We also have world-class researchers and facilities, and strong partnerships with government and industry.”

Tuesday’s session will focus on government-identified themes, ranging from increasing access to high-quality, affordable food, to improving health and food safety, to conserving soil, water and air.

This forum and other consultations are intended to help the federal government learn Canadians’ priorities for food-related issues. The discussions will help in shaping a national food policy.

“A national food policy requires thinking into everything from what is a healthy diet, to food poverty and food access amongst Canadian Aboriginal communities, especially those in the far North, through to production-related issues like water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” said Prof. Evan Fraser, director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph.

Agri-food issues also provide economic opportunities, including food exports, and involve digital technologies, including big data and artificial intelligence, Fraser said.

“A Food Policy for Canada will be an effort to create a single, coherent governmental strategy to address all these things together.”