Invitation by Marion GUILLOU, INRA Chairman & Managing Director

"FOOD IS LIFE". Food is one of the fundamental needs of all human-beings. Beyond merely nourishing the body, what we eat and when, where, how, with whom we eat can inspire and strengthen the bonds between individuals,
communities, countries, and can create profits. Health and well-being are the two key words recognized as driving forces in the field of foods. However all human societies are encountering three main events, which affect the place of food in life.

The first change is the positive demographical evolution with the decreases in fertility and mortality rates. These decreases lead to a lengthening of life expectancy. Consequently food habits will affect our heath and well-being on longer time scales.

The second change concerns the linked evolutions of diet (levels of macro- and micro-nutrients) and life style, including the level of physical activity. This evolution is linked to the development of societies and to differences between social classes inside each nation.

The last factor is the decrease in infectious diseases whereas chronic diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases are the new threats in developed countries. Several studies have emphasized that some diseases could be reduced by changing our food habits and contents on long time scales.

Many challenges are open: global approach of food chain, design foods responding to consumers' expectations, emerging evidence of mechanistic relationships between foods on the one hand and health and well-being and on the other hand, significant knowledge gaps in food structures and processes - the list goes on!

Therefore, the prime agents in our agriculture, food industries and retailers consider as a new opportunity the consumer's new-found appreciation for the vital role it plays in human health and well-being. One consequence is that food can no longer be considered as a specialized research topic. The necessary broadening of research and education on food topics means that all actors concerned by foods must exchange and cooperate.

We are particularly happy that this symposium is being organized between our two research organizations, Adria being a private group whereas INRA is a governmental research agency.

This XIII Iufost symposium will be hosted in an exciting location with great significance for food research.

The meeting will be a challenge for all of us - not only to bring new skills and knowledge, but also to develop a plan of action that will lead to long-lasting actions in the global reduction of food-related diseases and to the development of economical activities.

We hope that you will come to France in September 2006 to take up this challenge.

Marion Guillou
INRA Chairman and Managing Director