China, UC-Davis set up food safety center

Updated: 2014-07-24 11:15

By Lian Zi in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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On the heels of a food safety scandal that has rocked the fast food industry in China, officials from China's Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University and the University of California-Davis signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

The MOU lays the groundwork for establishing a Sino-US joint research center for food safety in China.

The agreement, which will extend over the next five years, calls for the two universities to form a joint team and research platform, carry out collaborative projects and cooperate on other food safety-related projects.

UC-Davis' World Food Center will identify a director to coordinate the research program. The Chinese partners will provide substantial funding for the new center.

"The food industry has become the largest industry in China, and food safety is a critical area for China and the US to have creative cooperation," said Zhang Laiwu, China's vice -minister of science and technology. "It not only involves technologies, but also policies and management."

Zhang added that the new cooperative agreement included Yangling National Agricultural High Tech Demonstration Zone and Zhuhai Municipality as part of the platform for research efforts.

The signing ceremony was held during a meeting between high-level officials of the US Department of Agriculture and China's Ministry of Science and Technology.

"Today's agreement is a landmark event for UC-Davis and for our World Food Center and serves as yet another indication of our worldwide leadership in food and health," said UC-Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

Signing the agreement today were Harris Lewin, vice chancellor of research for UC-Davis, and Wu Pute, professor and vice-president of Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University.

"This is clear evidence that the entire UC system is fully committed to be front and center on the critical issues of food security, sustainability and health," said UC President Janet Napolitano.

"With UC-Davis' commitment to food safety research and China's ever-increasing demand for food, the joint research center is a natural partnership," said Karen Ross, secretary of California's Department of Food and Agriculture.

Roger Beachy, executive director of the UC-Davis World Food Center, noted that the new food safety center is a logical outgrowth of many well-established research collaborations between scientists from UC-Davis and China.

"Working closely with Chinese scientists and policymakers, the new center will have significant impacts on food safety in China and elsewhere around the globe," he said.

The new center will conduct research on global food safety-related policies, propose solutions for hazards in the food-industry value chain and develop models for implementation of international food safety standards and risk management.

Students from both UC-Davis and China will be offered opportunities to study and train in each other's countries. UC-Davis faculty members currently have extensive collaborations with several Chinese universities, and the new joint research center is intended to expand these and initiate new activities.

Currently, there are other food-safety related collaborations between China and UC-Davis, including collaborative research about four food-safety efforts that specialize in the genomics of food-borne diseases, dairy safety, waterborne diseases and livestock and environmental chemicals.

UC-Davis contributed to this story.

(China Daily USA 07/24/2014 page2)