USCIB Observes Nutrition Conference Negotiations

L-R: Katy Lee (Private Sector Mechanism), Ann Steensland (Global Harvest Initiative), Nico Belzen (International Dairy Federation), and Helen Medina (USCIB)

The United Nations and World Health Organization will convene the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) next month to address the persistently high twin threats of hunger and malnutrition around the world.

In the lead-up to ICN2, member states met in Rome at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from October 10 to 12 to negotiate the final outcome documents for ICN2 – the political declaration and the framework for action. The meeting was a continuation of negotiations in Geneva last September where member states made progress finalizing the political declaration.

The ICN2 outcome documents will provide key priorities and technical assistance to governments and other stakeholders for improving people’s nutrition.

During the Rome meeting, USCIB partnered with the Global Harvest Initiative to represent U.S. business interests at the negotiations. USCIB’s Helen Medina, senior director for product policy and innovation, attended the meeting. Watch her summarize the meeting’s key takeaways for business.

Prior to the negotiations, private sector representatives were concerned with outstanding issues in the political declaration for ICN2. The document contained some language on “culturally acceptable food” that might have produced negative trade implications. Business believes that the document should focus on nutrition and leave discussions about trade policy to the World Trade Organization. Private sector representatives sought to eliminate language that could create potential trade barriers.

Business also paid attention to other areas of concern in the Framework for Action, including policies that deal with food pricing incentives, marketing and labeling regulations, language the puts a pejorative spin on processed food, and policies that are not inclusive of the entire agriculture industry.

“There are some good winds for the private sector,” Medina said at the end of the meeting. Negotiators deleted language in the political declaration that would have had a negative impact on trade. However issues remain with the Framework for Action, which recommends policies in international trade and investment that would be problematic for business. The U.S. government has reserved its position on the framework’s paragraphs about recommended trade and investment action, and USCIB is planning a follow-up meeting with USG to learn about any remaining issues with the framework before ICN2.

ICN2 will take place in Rome from November 19 to 21.

Staff contact: Helen Medina

More on USCIB’s Food and Agriculture Committee

More on USCIB’s Product Policy Working Group

Staff Contact:   Michael Michener

VP, Product Policy and Innovation & Acting Program/Policy Co-Lead
Tel: 202.617.3159

Michael Michener is USCIB’s vice president of product policy and innovation, joining USCIB in early 2017. Michener is a former administrator of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service who has also served as a U.S. trade diplomat and association executive. Michener most recently served in Brussels as director of multilateral relations for CropLife International, representing the association before a range of international organizations – including the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the UN Environment Program and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – on issues related to crop protection products and agriculture biotechnology.
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