Measurements supporting the global food system
May 20 is World Metrology Day, commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention in 1875. This treaty provides the basis for a worldwide coherent measurement system that underpins scientific discovery and innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade, as well as the improvement of the quality of life and the protection of the global environment.
The theme for World Metrology Day 2023 is Measurements supporting the global food system. This theme was chosen because of the increasing challenges of climate change, and global distribution of food in a world whose population reached 8 billion at the end of 2022.
Across the world, national metrology institutes continually advance measurement science by developing and validating new measurement techniques at the necessary level of sophistication. The national metrology institutes participate in measurement comparisons coordinated by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) to ensure the reliability of measurement results worldwide.
The International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) develops International Recommendations, which aim to align and harmonize requirements worldwide in many fields. The OIML also operates the OIML Certification System (OIML-CS) which facilitates international acceptance and global trade of regulated measuring instruments.
These international metrology systems provide the necessary assurance and confidence that measurements are accurate, providing a sound basis for global trade today and helping us to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.
World Metrology Day recognizes and celebrates the contribution of all the people that work in intergovernmental and national metrology organizations and institutes throughout the year.
On Friday 19th May 2023 the Metrology Department of the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards will host an Open Day and Press Tour of the Metrology and Agricultural Labs at the National Agricultural Diagnostic Facility (NADF). The Open Day will be for external and internal customers of the Metrology Department who have utilized our services over the last year. Currently the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards and Ministry of Agriculture have an MOU working towards the implementation of the Food Safety Bill/Act.
A message from the Directors of the BIPM and the BIML
World Metrology Day - 20 May 2023
Measurements supporting the global food system
Food is a major concern for every one of us. Providing access to safe and affordable food remains one of the major challenges for governments worldwide. This is also the goal of farmers and food producers who trade products through distributors and retailers to consumers at international, national and local levels. In 2021, this trade was worth 22 trillion USD and accounted for approximately 20 % of all global trade.
To trade internationally and to access markets for high-value products, producers must be able to show that they meet food standards. Additionally, governments need to ensure safety and fair trade especially in local markets for food. All of this is supported by reliable measurements of the quantity and quality of the primary and processed food products involved.
Our focus for World Metrology Day in 2023 is on the many measurement challenges that must be addressed to make the global food system work. For example:
- the quantity of food bought and sold is measured according to its mass or volume. These measurements range from the large volumes of grain and wheat traded internationally down to rapid online weighing measurements to ensure pre-packaged goods are labelled correctly;
- the effective storage and packaging of food depends on the accurate control of the temperature and humidity of its storage environment;
- the quality and authenticity of food is determined by measuring its chemical composition. This requires measurements to ensure that it contains the stated levels of vitamins through to measurements of its isotopic composition to validate the origin of high-value foods such as honey or wine; and
- the safety of food is ensured by careful measurement to detect the presence of chemical contamination such as pesticide residues and heavy metals or biological contamination such as mycotoxins.
It is now recognised that the depletion of natural resources and the impact of climate change pose major challenges to the global food system such that the goal of a world with zero hunger and universal access to clean water was included amongst the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.
We again look forward to celebrating World Metrology Day with our stakeholders around the world.
Notes for Editors:
World Metrology Day is an annual event during which more than 80 countries celebrate the impact of measurement on our daily lives.
This date was chosen in recognition of the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875, the beginning of formal international collaboration in metrology. Each year World Metrology Day is organized and celebrated jointly by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) with the participation of the national organizations responsible for metrology.
The international metrology community which works to ensure that accurate measurements can be made across the world endeavours to raise awareness each World Metrology Day through a poster campaign and web site. Previous themes have included topics such as measurements for the global energy challenge, for safety, for innovation, and measurements in sport, the environment, medicine and trade.
About the BIPM
The signing of the Metre Convention in 1875 created the BIPM and for the first time formalized international cooperation in metrology. The Convention established the International Bureau of Weights and Measures and laid the foundations for worldwide uniformity of measurement in all aspects of our endeavours, historically focusing on and assisting industry and trade, but today just as vital as we tackle the grand challenges of the 21st Century such as climate change, health, and energy. The BIPM undertakes scientific work at the highest level on a selected set of physical and chemical quantities. The BIPM is the hub of a worldwide network of national metrology institutes (NMIs) which continue to realize and disseminate the chain of traceability to the SI into national accredited laboratories and industry.
About the OIML
In 1955 the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) was established as an Intergovernmental Treaty Organization in order to promote the global harmonization of legal metrology procedures with the Bureau International de Métrologie Légale (BIML) as the Secretariat and Headquarters of the OIML. Since that time, the OIML has developed a worldwide technical structure whose primary aim is to harmonize the regulations and metrological controls applied by the national metrological services, or related organizations.