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Editorial - INFOODS, the International Food Data Systems Project
A major new project of the United Nations University is concerned with making available all useful data on the nutrient and non-nutrient composition of foods of the world. Food analysis facilities are distributed so unevenly and so much food moves in international trade that nations without ready access to such data are at a disadvantage in their programmes that require interpretation of dietary surveys, food regulations, development of nutrition education materials, agricultural and food planning, and other activities described in the articles that appear in this issue.
This activity was approved by the Council of the University at its meeting in December 1983 because of the importance of the issue to all countries of the world and the unique capacity of the United Nations University to coordinate, on behalf of the consumer, the interests and efforts in INFOODS of the five principal contributing constituencies: scientific research institutions and laboratories, individual scientists through their relevant international scientific unions, national governments, international agencies, and the food industry, The INFOODS project is summarized in the special INFOODS section of this issue of the Bulletin, starting on page 17.
In order to undertake this programme in an informed and comprehensive manner with a broad range of informed opinion and advice, the United Nations University convened an international meeting in Bellagio, Italy, 31 January to 4 February 1983, at the Conference Centre provided by the Rockefeller Foundation. This highly successful meeting discussed the extremely unsatisfactory status of food composition data world-wide and proposed a series of initiatives to improve the situation. The report of this meeting begins on page 17 and is followed by six of the working papers presented at the conference.
Additional funds have already been obtained for this project from a variety of sources, and more are being sought for what will obviously be a long-term and costly effort. This project is important to the overall objectives of the Food, Nutrition, and Poverty Sub-programme of the UNU and falls within both Theme III, "Hunger, Poverty, Resources and Environment," and Theme V, "Science, Technology, and Their Social and Ethical Implications," of the UNU Medium Term Perspective. Although a project of the UNU Division of Development Studies, a separate secretariat is being established for it at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Vernon Young will head the project as chairman of its executive and policy committees, and Dr. William Rand will be the first technical secretary. Committees on Nomenclature and Classification of Foods and Food Composition and Quality of Food Composition Data have already been formed and are beginning their activities. Formation of additional working groups and development of a regional INFOODS liaison committee structure as recommended by the conference will be undertaken as soon as additional funding is obtained.
Individuals and institutions interested in collaborating with INFOODS should write directly to:
Dr. William Rand
Cambridge, MA 02139
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