Call for active consumer role as food agency ripens

After a long period of preparation, the government’s Unified Foodstuffs Control Agency (EFET) is ready to be launched in a comprehensive and effective manner, but the government wishes to see consumers actively involved in a broad and permanent dialogue with social partners as an integral part of the democratic process, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday. «The State, more than anyone else, must promote this kind of procedure and development, in a stable and permanent dialogue with enterprises, working people, citizens and consumers, in order to effectively support a comprehensive new form of democratic process in the 21st century,» he said in an address to the Consumers Institute’s (INKA) conference on «Food Safety and Social Responsibility of Enterprises,» held on the occasion of World Consumers Day. Tsochadzopoulos said EFET had now established its first regional office in Thessaloniki and planned to open further ones in Patras and Iraklion in the next six months, with more slated thereafter. He stressed, however, that administrative market controls were a thing of the past and that consumers had a key role to play in providing for sustainable development. «All participants must formulate terms of acceptable operation within the market. Let’s be clear about it: the market forms price, supply and demand and cannot be controlled administratively in the new globalized environment… the comprehensive democratic institutional process is the only one that can impose discipline and joint responsibility on the market,» Tsochadzopoulos said. He noted with satisfaction that 20 years after the emergence of the consumers movement in Greece, enterprises recognized social responsibility as a basic procedure of which they wished to be part. Tsochadzopoulos said that rapid growth of the use of biotechnology, particularly in farm production in the US, was a serious development that Europeans had to address. He predicted that a conference on the issue would be held by June, with the participation of several European organizations representing producers, enterprises and consumers. «It will not be a scientific event; we wish to speak with those who have the responsibility to promote or not to promote these products,» he said.

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