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Melissa Mialon

Captura de Tela 2015-09-25 às 18.34.38I am a French and Mauritian citizen, and I have grown up in France. Two of my grandparents were descendants of Indians emigrants who moved to Mauritius to find work in the sugar cane plantations, when Mauritius was still ruled by the British Empire. My other grandfather was Italian and met with my grandmother in a café in Paris, where he was a waiter. Despite this colorful background, I feel like, in only a few generations, the culinary traditions in my family have been lost.

I am trying to learn more about the food cultures of my different countries. But, if I take the example of Mauritius, I have seen the food system changing in the last 15 years. In 2000, food was bought fresh from the market. But in 2014, the local market is only open during a few days every week, everyone drinks soda, fast food outlets have opened all over the country and signs on small shops on the streets carry the logos of Coca or Pepsi.

I did a BSc in physiology, and I then completed a Masters of Engineering in agribusiness, with a specialty in public health, at the engineering school Agrosup Dijon in France. During my Masters program, I spent a year at the University College of Cork in Ireland, where I undertook a course on “human nutrition in the developing world”. I became very interested in nutrition, and the global food system. As a food engineer, I realised that the food industry has a critical role in public health issues, and in politics. After my stay in Ireland, I came back to France to complete my Masters, but I found it very challenging to question the role of transnationals and of ultra-processed products.

In 2012, I completed an internship at the French non-for-profit organisation called “Action Contre la Faim” (Action Against Hunger), and then undertook a 3-months placement at the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition, in Geneva. I was helping the team to prepare the International Conference on Nutrition 2.

I am now a PhD candidate at Deakin University in Australia. I am in my second year of PhD candidature, funded by the Center of Research Excellence in Policy Research on Obesity and Food Systems. My project is part of the International Network for Food and Obesity / Non-communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS).

I am working on what is called the “corporate political activity” of the food industry, which encompasses the practices of transnational corporations that may pose a risk to public health policies and outcomes.

I would like to dedicate my career to work against all forms of malnutrition, including hunger and NCDs, with a food and nutrition policy approach and a focus on the influence of the food industry on public health.

I truly believe in the central role of local, sustainable, indigenous food systems. I am particularly impressed by the work undertaken by many countries in South America.