Académie des technologies

The National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) has been led to the conclusion – following in-depth studies on recent results due to introduction of new technologies in the complex area of health issues and their interactions with foodstuffs and feeding – that there are emerging generations of new products that underscore the importance of this sector to the French economy. NATF would strongly welcome a modification of existing rules and regulations that would enhance and accelerate their development.

Certain companies in the foodstuff sector either produce and/or use molecules or microorganisms (probiotics) in their formulae that have noteworthy effects on consumers’ health. NATF analyzed foodstuffs that have “specific physiological effects” aka “health-food complements”. The Academy also analyzed recent scientific progress in this area.

NATF is of the opinion that the most promising breakthrough that will affect us over coming years, is the proof that the microbiome has numerous impacts ion how our body works (the microbiome (or microbiota) is the collective community of bacteria we host in our intestines. Consequently, the Academy recommends that public authorities in France should strategically and financially support national research in this field. Progress in nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics are also important and allow us to understand better the relationship between our human genome and the individual foodstuff choices we make. Last but not least, research in nutrition relating to special categories of consumers can lead to products that are adapted to specific needs. They can enable, for example, to take into account in a more efficient manner the case of newborn babies, youngsters, senior citizens, especially those suffering from specific pathologies such as cancer or Alzheimer. These new approaches all open the way to more personalized food-habits.

Analyzing and using big data resources has become increasingly prevalent in the pharmaceutical industries sector, to gain insights into the interactions that govern complex systems, such as for instance, the connection between the human genome and certain disorders and ailments. NATF recommends that further use should be made of these analytical techniques to better identify the complex relationships between foodstuffs and health-related biological parameters. Big data analysis can lead to development of new foodstuff formulae with specific physiological effects. In this respect, NATF also recommends that the assessment criteria for certification of health improvement claims should be reexamined along the lines of those regulations set out and enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Lastly, we have an area here where ethical refection is necessary. In particular, an honest information should be delivered to consumers plus access to all foodstuffs beneficial to our health, but at a higher price. Beyond that, we should both forget that there are close on one billion persons in the world who do not have enough food intake, while at the same time an almost equivalent number suffer from being overweight and/or be obese.