Chinese Officials and Academics Visit TAU to Explore Food Safety
Experts predict the world population will increase by two billion people by 2050. Feeding these people is one of the most critical challenges facing policymakers today. How do we reduce food consumption, optimize food production, and reduce waste?
Twenty leading Chinese academics and government officials took part in a unique weeklong conference on food security issues and solutions at Tel Aviv University from May 22-27, 2016. The Food Safety through Innovation Israel-China Collaboration and Technological Exchange Program was organized under the auspices of a new collaboration between TAU's Manna Center Program for Food Safety and Security and Peking University's School of Modern Agriculture, the Lahav Executive Education Program at the TAU Coller School of Management, and the OSI Group, a world leader in providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry.
The conference featured symposiums and lectures on food safety and security issues, meetings with Israeli government officials and food security experts, and tours of agricultural corporations that are developing innovative solutions to current and future food security challenges.
The Chinese delegates had the opportunity to visit Netafim, a global leader in smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions; a meat-processing plant; and the Agricultural Research Organization, the research arm of Israel's Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry. They also attended lectures and enjoyed exclusive tours of important Israeli landmarks.
Israel: A destination for policymakers
"Israel is a very much a desired destination for policymakers," said Steven Lavin, the Vice Chairman of the OSI Group. "It's famous for its technology and innovation and its ability to build a modern state. After I heard [Dean of Life Sciences Prof.] Daniel Chamovitz's talks on food security, TAU was a natural choice for this partnership."
Prof. Chamovitz, founder of the Manna Program for Food Safety at TAU, spent a significant part of the last year establishing collaborations on food safety between Peking University, Waifang Municipality, and TAU, raising awareness in China of TAU's expertise in the area of agricultural technology and innovation and food safety policies.
"One of the goals of this joint program is to educate Chinese officials and leading academics about Israeli innovation and food security and involve them in projects that will further our shared interests," said Prof. Chamovitz. "The OSI Group helped identify high-level participants in China — the head of the Chinese Meat Association, the dean and faculty of China's Agriculture University, and other officials — and underwrote this conference. None of the participants had ever been to Israel before, so they are leaving as new 'ambassadors.'"
An Israeli/Chinese partnership
"We face a lot of challenges in our industry," said Lu Denver, Vice President and CFO of OSI China. "China is home to the world's largest population and a growing middle class. People are looking for quality food and safety now, and regulators and industry are working together to get aligned with government initiatives. Our new partnership with TAU offers a good combination — regulators, scientists, and industry leaders. We hope to learn more about food safety management and reap important connections. Israel has a great reputation for agriculture and technology."
According to Ding Ying, Director of Corporate Communications at OSI China, there are already plans to send delegations to Israel on an annual basis. "Israel has the most advanced food safety practices and philosophies and technologies," she said. "China shares a historic connection with the Jewish people, a very good foundation, and this trip has only strengthened ties. By learning from one another, we help make a better world."
"The delegates were ecstatic," said Prof. Nir Ohad, Head of the Manna Program on Food Safety. "The experts, the topics, and the learning tours made a great impact."