Officials from UC Davis and the city of Zhuhai, China, have signed an agreement to to establish the World Food Center-China as part of an effort to improve food safety and sustainability.
The signing ceremony was held Friday in Beijing, in conjunction with a separate agreement signed a few hours later with South China Agricultural University in the city of Guangzhou, less than 100 miles from Zhuhai.
The World Food Center-China will be the central office for coordinating research and training activities in food safety for various Sino-U.S. joint research centers across the country, according to a UC Davis news release. A facility for the center is being developed in a newly created economic zone in Zhuhai’s Guangdong province, a region known for its technology industry, economic vitality and proximity to Hong Kong.
The joint research centers, led by the World Food Center-China, will identify challenges and set goals to establish and ensure food safety and sustainable food production in China and globally, according to UC Davis officials.
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“China has placed a very high priority on improving the safety of its food and restoring confidence in consumers here and around the world,” Robert Beachy, executive director of the UC Davis World Food Center, said in a written statement. “We will measure success by the reduced incidence of unsafe foods in China in coming years.”
Signing the official document were Beachy and Ralph Hexter, UC Davis provost and executive vice chancellor, with Wang Qingli, vice mayor of Zhuhai. Representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also attended the event.
Zhongli Pan, an adjunct professor at UC Davis, will serve as the center director. The city of Zhuhai is contributing the first $2.5 million to the center for the initial projects.
The memorandum of understanding between UC Davis and South China Agricultural University will establish a new joint research center for food safety, providing more opportunities for faculty of the two universities to develop coordinated programs, according to the news release.
UC Davis officials said a similar agreement signed last year with Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Shaanxi province has led to 10 joint project proposals.
The World Food Center at UC Davis was established in 2013 to increase the economic benefit from campus research, influence national and international policy, and to convene teams of scientists and innovators from industry, academia, government and nongovernmental organizations to tackle food-related challenges in China and around the world.