Olga will fulfil the role of President of the EFFoST Board alongside her responsibilities as the Head of the research unit Novel Technologies for Food Processing and Director of the Doctoral School at the University of Lleida in Spain.
When did you first get involved in EFFoST? What did you do?
It was in 2003. I was invited by Huub Lelieveld to be a member of the EFFoST Working group on Public, Scientific and Legal Acceptance of New Food Technology. Afterwards, in 2004, I became a member of the EFFoST Executive Committee.
Why did you want to become President of EFFoST?
I firmly believe in EFFoST as the European reference in Food Science and Technology and the EFFoST mission of having “food for all in a changing world”. More than 130 societies, institutes and universities all over Europe are affiliated to EFFoST, which can be translated in more than 100,000 food experts. This is a really large number of professionals who together can address the various challenges that affect the food system and thus contribute to the EFFoST mission. Working on that is the reason why I have been part of the EFFoST Executive Committee in different roles for many years. As I have been actively involved in EFFoST for a long time, it is a great honour for me to become EFFoST President.
What would you like to achieve in your 2-year term?
I do not intend to make disruptive changes, but to continue with what was started by my predecessors and the EFFoST board we constituted two years ago. Thus, I would like to contribute in achieving the goals of EFFoST by:
- engaging EFFoST members
- promoting young food scientists
- involving SMEs
- disseminating scientific evidence to:
- enable the food industry to take well-informed decisions,
- enhance consumers’ confidence in what they eat, and
- help the European authorities in elaborating a sound strategic research agenda.
We would like to expand the number of institutions and professionals actively involved in EFFoST, stimulate synergies among food scientist of different disciplines, create job opportunities for young scientists, facilitate the innovation in the SMEs and establish alliances with other organizations. A tool for achieving these aims is the creation of a number of specific standing committees that will increase as soon as new challenges arise.
What is the strength of EFFoST and its community?
There is a large number of professionals working in the food sector all over Europe belonging to a broad range of disciplines that are interconnected. EFFoST is an excellent meeting point for all of them, which means senior and young professionals, as well as students. The quality of the universities and research centers where these professionals are trained is excellent in terms of facilities, teaching and research. The latter is evident when reviewing the numerous high-impact scientific Journals. In addition, teaching and research institutions have developed closer ties with the industry, which enables better employability of the graduates and an easy transference of results. This will lead to more innovation opportunities for the producers. EFFoST believes that these opportunities must be also available for small and medium companies and is developing different ways to achieve this.
What is your vision for EFFoST?
The resources to feed the global population are decreasing considerably and there will be a critical shortage of basic materials. As a consequence, we will have not enough food in a few years, if we do not act fast and effectively. This is why food security, safety, nutrition and sustainability are of great interest to the whole society. EFFoST has an important role in a) supporting the developments and interconnections in the different food areas and creating ways to enhance the communication and collaboration among scientists, producers, consumers and authorities and b) promoting decision-making based on scientific evidence to assure the access to appropriate food for all in current and future generations.
What role can EFFoST take in the Europa Food sector?
EFFoST must take leadership in the efforts to provide available safe, healthy and attractive food by engaging EFFoST members, encouraging food professionals to share knowledge and new ideas, stimulating the science and technology transfer to food industry including the SME companies, promoting young food scientists and joining forces with other food-related organizations.