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Khaleej Times, 6 March 2013

FNC calls for authority on food control

Nissar Hoath / 6 March 2013

Following the scandal witnessed in Europe which brought to light the use of horsemeat in dishes claiming to use ‘beef’, members of the Federal National Council (FNC) on Tuesday called for the establishment of a federal food control authority to ensure food safety in the country. The meeting was chaired by Speaker Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr and during question hour, FNC member Ahmed Mohammed Rahma Al Shamsi raised the issue over food control. Also in attendance at the event was Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, and Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs. In his question,  Al Shamsi said: “Different kinds of food enter the country without any check(s). A lot of them contain substances that are not fit for human consumption and are not examined. I would like to ask what prevents the Cabinet (from establishing) a federal food control authority so that any kind of food available in the country is examined and approved by the authority (before it reaches) the market for consumers.” Responding to Al Shamsi’s question, Dr Rashid assured the house that the issue will be raised in the Cabinet, and said that, hopefully soon, there will be a federal level food control authority. Seven members also tabled a motion relating to food, and agriculture and environment, asking the Government to develop legislations for the protection of the environment and ensuring food security. The other topic that came under debate was the problems facing soil and vegetation relating to the harmful effects caused by the use of pesticides and fertilisers. The council also asked the minister to develop national policies with comprehensive studies in order to protect the soil and vegetation and other natural resources. Another member, Misbah Al Ketbi, called for a federal fund for the support of local farmers with the aim of controlling prices of livestock feed. “There have been lots of complaints from ranchers about high prices of livestock feed, especially after many farms have been stopped from growing livestock feed. Is the Government planning to create a federal fund to support the prices of these feed?” he asked the minister. Another issue raised during yesterday’s debate included Government support for fishermen. Member, Ali Issa Nuaimi asked Dr Rashid if there was any project or policy being undertaken to support and further develop the fishing profession. “The profession of fishing was very important (and) enhances food security and self-efficiency. It is also a major source of food in addition to its contribution to (the) social and economic development of the country,” he added. Dr Rashid, responding to all these questions, assured the house that all these issues will be considered and raised in the Federal Cabinet. The house also unanimously passed a resolution with a set of recommendations for the government for food security, environmental protection and the development of agriculture. The house asked the Government to develop grazing and rangeland monitoring and logging, control and regulate the plant varieties and natural reserves, taking into account that such legislation aligned with the international conventions ratified by the state. Members also asked for the adherence to international standards and codes of conduct regarding the use of chemicals and pesticides, control and disposal of waste and agricultural waste. The council also approved the setting up of a permanent in-house committee on human rights to discuss rights issues pertaining to legislations.

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