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University of California Davis officials signed an agreement May 22 in Beijing to partner with a Chinese city and a nearby agricultural university on joint food safety programs. The UC Davis World Food Center in Zhuhai, China, is designed to organize research and establish goals regarding food production in China and elsewhere.
The shopping center area of Zhuhai, China. © Huating
“China has placed a very high priority on improving the safety of its food and restoring confidence in consumers here and around the world,” Roger Beachy, executive director of the UC Davis World Food Center, said in a statement, adding, “We will measure success by the reduced incidence of unsafe foods in China in coming years.” The city of Zhuhai, located on the southern coast of Guangdong province, has reportedly made an initial investment of $2.5 million for the project. The WFC-China facility is being developed in a newly created economic zone in an area known for its technology-based economy and its next-door location to Hong Kong. In attendance at the May 22 signing ceremony were Beachy, UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, Zhuhai Vice Mayor Wang Qingli and China Ministry of Science and Technology Vice Minister Zhang Laiwu. Representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were also on hand. A second agreement was signed a few hours later with South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, which is about 100 miles north of Zhuhai. That institution is one of China’s top agricultural universities and a leader in food safety research and education. Director of WFC-China will be Zhongli Pan, an adjunct professor at UC Davis. The university established the World Food Center in 2013 in Davis, CA, with goals of increasing economic benefits of campus research, influencing national and international policy, and convening teams of scientists and innovators to take on food challenges in California and elsewhere. UC Davis also signed a similar agreement in 2014 with Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Shaanxi province, which has resulted in 10 joint project proposals between their respective faculty members. China has experienced a rash of recent food safety scandals which have caused concern among the population and led to the recent adoption of amendments to significantly toughen national food safety laws.