The Directorate General for Food (DGAL), the agency in the French Ministry of Agriculture in charge of food safety and quality, animal and plant health, as well as animal welfare, released its annual report highlighting key initiatives, facts and figures from 2015.

Here are some of the key points from 2015.

Food policy played a major role in the past year, with the launch of the “National Program for Food: Our model for the future.” This program focuses on four axes.

The use of local food has been reinforced, notably through the encouragement of local institutions like hospitals, schools, daycares and businesses to use locally sourced food whenever possible. This was accompanied by a comprehensive guidance helping the local institutions in implementing the recommendation.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.Agri.Fr.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.Agri.Fr.

The program also includes a section on social food justice with the meaning that everybody has the right to have access to quality food in a sufficient amount. It provides steps on facilitating food donations by tax deductions, improving food in prisons or educating inmates in food trade skills (bakery…) , and making food healthier for everybody by working with the food industry to reduce salt and fat in the products they sell.

Educating young people about the sources of their food and the importance of eating healthy also played a big part in the program, as well as the fight to limit food waste at every step of the food process.

The Ecophyto plan was a major part of French actions in 2015 as well, with the second version of the plan being launched in October. The plan aims to reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture as much as possible through encouraging alternatives and educating farmers on their use.

Some key figures from the plan: More than 500,000 professionals were educated on different alternatives for chemicals, and almost 2,000 farms participated in a pilot program where alternatives to pesticides are implemented. The goal is to increase participation to 3,000 farms in 2016.

French Ministry of Agriculture

French Ministry of Agriculture

Another project that was highlighted was efforts to help protect France’s pollinators, notably bees, from environmental problems. France is taking efforts to limit the use of certain types of chemicals that have been shown to cause damage to bee colonies. Research on a global and multifaceted approach has been launched regarding bee health. And finally DGAL encouraged the development of new bee medication and put in place a veterinary network of bee specialists.

Fighting antibiotic resistance is a big part of the DGAL’s plans. This includes a comprehensive effort to prevent the overuse of antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine as part of the EcoAntiBio Plan. Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem around the world, and the French government is playing a major role in helping to fight this phenomenon.

Several other major actions were launched, including strategies for preventing avian flu outbreaks, and reinforcement of food safety standards.