Is the Codex system fit for the future?


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
World Health Organization (WHO)

Time: Friday, 20. January 2023, 09:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Room: M8

Languages: English, German


2023 represents the 60th anniversary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the 75th anniversary of one of its parent organizations, the World Health Organization. A year when carbon emissions are forecast to hit record levels, the date set for achieving the SDGs is only round the corner and we are in the midst of understanding what food system transformation will really look like. With such huge challenges it is clear that collaboration is essential. But our global mechanisms for collaboration of which Codex is one were established in the last century to address 20th century problems. Now they need to be fit for purpose for addressing the huge challenges of the twenty first century.

Codex is both a process and a result bringing together 188 Member countries, 1 Member organization and over 240 Observers to work together to develop standards that aim to ensure food is safe and of expected quality. This is a key contributor to food security as “if it is not safe it is not food”. Codex works through technical committees hosted by its Members and through the Codex Alimentarius Commission which has the final say on all standards. Work has moved from physical to virtual and now to hybrid. While the Codex mandate to protect the health of consumers and to ensure fair practices in the food trade is as important as ever, in a rapidly changing world with growing demands for various forms of assurances for food production (sustainability, animal welfare, One Health, nutrition etc) are both the processes used and the results fit for the future? Is the system flexible enough to adapt itself? Are Codex Members willing to see it change? What needs to change and what can stay?

This session will bring together representatives from the areas of standard setting, science, trade and industry to address these questions and debate what is needed to ensure an intergovernmental body like Codex can be sufficiently flexible to adapt to twenty first century demands and contribute to a sustainable food system for the future.

Key topics: One Health, SDGs, Codex Alimentarius, WTO, Food Safety, Food Security

Panel Guests

Michel trained as a veterinarian in Chile and also holds a PhD in Economics of Food Resources and the Environment from Naples University, Italy.
He is a specialist in food safety matters currently working as Director of CERES BCA, biosafety and food quality services, and as President of the Chilean Food Protection Corporation. He works as an international consultant for a range of international and UN organizations and for various governments and companies in Latin America.
Michel previously worked in the Chilean Agency for Food Quality and led Codex work chairing the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Michel was an adviser in the cabinet of the Ministers of Agriculture. He has held leadership and teaching positions at several universities and coordinated international cooperation projects.

Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima has over 30 years of health and food safety experience across multiple sectors. Following studies in medicine, public administration and physiology, he entered the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare as a medical officer. In 1994, he joined WHO and in 1998 he became Associate Professor for public health and health policy at Kyoto University, Japan. He has served as Secretary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Deputy Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health and Director of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses in WHO.
He is currently Visiting Professor at the Nagasaki University, advisor to Aeon Co. Ltd. and a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Food Safety Initiaitve.


Jenny is currently part of the New Zealand Embassy in Rome as the Deputy Permanent Representative to FAO. With a technical background in food science and public health nutrition Jenny has over 20 years’ experience in working for the New Zealand government in trade and market access, food policy, scientific risk assessment and international food regulations.
Her previous roles include leading the Food Science and Risk Assessment teams responsible for providing scientific and technical advice to the Minister and to underpin domestic and international food regulations.
Jenny has led the New Zealand delegation to two Codex committees and chaired the global work on the review of the Codex standard for Follow up Formula.

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, is an economist and politician from Cape Verde. A leading expert in global development issues, she has worked in public service for over thirty years. Over the last decade, FAO has helped shape a new global narrative where agriculture is prominently recognized as a solution in addressing increasingly complex emerging issues – from climate change and biodiversity loss to ecosystem degradation to overfishing. Leading to deliver with impact, Semedo promotes an integrated approach, resulting in greater crosssectoral engagement and stronger strategic partnerships, better positioning FAO in its role to promote the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems. A key player on the FAO Core Leadership Team, Semedo heads flagship initiatives such as the FAO Green Cities Action Programme, the corporate Climate Change Strategy and strengthening the global One Health approach. She fosters high-level multi-stakeholder dialogues that optimize the Organization’s 75+ years of technical expertise and experience, its global reach and innovative advances, all contributing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Semedo is a firm advocate for women’s empowerment and is well-known for her work promoting gender equity and social parity. Since October 2019 she has chaired the FAO Women’s Committee and helped spearhead the Organization’s Mentorship Programme, looking to build a more equitable and transparent workplace. Before taking up her current duties in 2013, Ms Semedo gained valuable experience and insight in Africa, first as FAO Representative in Niger (2003-2008), then as Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa (2008-2009) and Regional Representative for Africa (2009-2013). Prior to her international career, she worked as an economist for the Cabo Verde Ministry of Planning and Cooperation before becoming Secretary of State for Fisheries, then in 1993 Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Affairs – the first-ever woman Minister in her country. After serving as Minister for Tourism, Transportation and Marine Affairs from 1995-1998, she became Member of Parliament, a position she held until 2003.
Honors and awards
November 2019:
• Receives the Crans Montana Forum Prix de la Fondation
December 2018:
• The Government of Brazil bestows the honorific Order of Rio Branco
• The Universidade Aberta in Lisbon confers the Honoris Causa doctorate for her work in global sustainable development
March 2018:
• Named “Woman of the Year” at the commemoration of the 2018 Women Diplomats Day in Portugal
May 2008:
• Receives the Order of Niger for her distinguished service to the field of agriculture

Christiane joined the Secretariat of the World Trade Organization in 1999. The main focus of her work is the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Christiane is the Secretary of the SPS Committee and Head of the Secretariat’s SPS Section; she also has extensive experience in dispute settlement work and technical assistance. Years ago, Christiane worked at the German Development Bank KfW, where she managed projects in the areas of agricultural development and protection of natural resources in West Africa. Christiane has a background in agricultural economics and development studies.


Tom Heilandt has been the Secretary of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission since 2014. He joined the Secretariat in 2005 as Senior Officer responsible for communication. From 1994-2005 he worked in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva first in the secretariat for international recommendations and agreements on the transport of dangerous goods by road and later as Secretary of the Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards. Previous private sector work experiences include chemical industry and enterprise consulting. Tom is a German citizen and holds degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Düsseldorf.

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