Crumb Trail
     an impermanent travelogue
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

They aren't precisely eating disorders but seem related. Seen from a distance they are somewhat humorous - like the situation in Mughal India where the Moslem wouldn't eat pork products and the Hindu wouldn't eat cattle products - but they can be deadly serious to those who have a fetish. In recent times Europe has been ground zero both for food supply contamination episodes and food fetishes. One seems to inspire the other. It's getting technical.

In the wake of successive outbreaks of food-borne disease in the past decade (think mad cow disease, E.coli, salmonella, etc) and the current fear over the possible spread of avian flu, public demand for tighter safeguards on the entire food production chain has never been greater.

"The certification of the origin of food products is a vital issue for Europe in the ongoing discussions with the World Trade Organisation," explains Michel Debord, project coordinator. "Americans in particular prefer to certify the quality of a product according to its brand and attach no real importance to its origin. European consumers, by contrast, want to know where the food that they eat has come from."

The concept behind GeoTraceAgri is to take advantage of advances in information and communication technology, satellite imaging and mapping to enable clear and precise tracking of food products that are accessible in real-time to relevant parties.

"The ultimate goal of GeoTraceAgri was to develop indicators of geotraceability that enable users to locate precisely the origin of agricultural products," he says. "The advantage of this type of system is that the geographical certification is objective and verifiable, and can be viewed on the Internet using secure geoportals that have been specifically developed for this purpose."

Europeans have always been obsessed with geography and national origin - French wine, Danish ham, Swiss chocolate etc. Most Americans don't seem to have that geographic obsession (some do!) - perhaps because they are less mired in the old blood and soil reality of Europe - but can be as adamant about brand labels as Europeans are about geographic labels.

posted by back40 | 2/07/2006 08:53:00 AM


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