The Chair of Food Law at the University of Bayreuth has announced the winners of its scientific essay competition on the future of food law and food policy. Dr. Stephan Walch and Dr. Dirk Lachenmeier from the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office (CVUA) in Karlsruhe were awarded first prize for their analysis of the EU Novel Food Regulation. Anna Handte-Reinecker received second prize and Ankita Yadav third prize. Bayreuth master's students Anna Handte-Reinecker and Ankita Yadav received second and third prize, respectively. A publication of the award-winning essays is in preparation.
In May 2022, the Chair of Food Law at the Faculty of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition and Health had launched the competition. All interested parties were invited to reflect in an essay on the legal framework under which innovative and sustainable food systems should be developed and implemented. "In a time characterized by upheaval and uncertainty, many people want to avoid fundamental change. This is especially true in the area of nutrition. However, new research shows that innovations in the fields of food law and policy can significantly strengthen the development of sustainable food systems at the national and international level – not least in view of the global challenge of ensuring a healthy and sufficient diet for a growing world population. With the launch of our new essay competition, we encourage anyone interested in the future of our food to develop their own ideas. The quality of the submissions was extremely high," says Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen, Chair of Food Law at the Kulmbach site of the University of Bayreuth.
Dr. Stephan Walch, head of the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office (CVUA) in Karlsruhe, and Dr. Dirk Lachenmeier, who heads the Department for Foods of Plant Origin, Dietetics, and Internet commerce there, analyzed the EU legislation on "Novel Foods". "We have come to the conclusion that the currently valid EU legal framework is not suitable for ensuring sustainability in the food sector. Because the topic of the essay competition fell within one of our main areas of expertise, namely the evaluation of novel foods under food law, we were happy to participate," says Dr. Stephan Walch. "The call encouraged us to submit a paper that we would not normally have written because it looked beyond the scope of our daily work. We used the essay format to do some further thinking on the connection between novel food policies, food safety and sustainability – especially in light of the current crises in staple food availability," adds Dr. Dirk Lachenmeier. The two Karlsruhe award winners donated their prize to cancer research at the German Cancer Research Center.
The winner of the second prize, Anna Handte-Reinecker, is studying for a master's degree in "Global Food, Nutrition and Health" at the University of Bayreuth. In her essay, she addresses problems of sustainability in EU fisheries. "I participated in this competition because I am very interested in this topic. My goal was to develop creative solutions by examining the sustainability of current EU fishing practices and regulations. During the writing process, I learned a lot about the politics and conflicting opinions on this topic. I really enjoyed writing my first essay with a legal focus, diving deep into a topic that is very close to my heart." The third prize winner, Ankita Yadav, who comes from India, is studying for a master's degree in "Food Quality and Safety". In her essay, she shows how the problems to be considered in regulating sustainable food systems are interrelated and require holistic political action: "The world today faces revolutionary challenges in combating climate change. Our current situation requires that we ensure food for all while reducing carbon emissions. I see great potential in alternative proteins as a harbinger of such change. I find it fascinating to work on innovative concepts for new foods, but challenging at the same time, as people are often not ready to consume these foods in the first place."
The Chair of Food Law at the University of Bayreuth is currently working on the editorial supervision of the award-winning essays in order to publish them in scientific journals and to present the ideas of the winners for discussion beyond Bayreuth and Kulmbach. There will be another essay competition on the future of food law and policy in 2023. "Our goal is to develop the competition into an annual creative event at the Faculty of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition and Health," says Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen.