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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO; French: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture, Italian: Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura) is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy.
FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all. Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates as "let there be bread". As of 6 January 2017, FAO has 194 member states, along with the European Union (a "member organization"), and the Faroe Islands and Tokelau, which are associate members
The idea of an international organization for food and agriculture emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century, advanced primarily by the US agriculturalist and activist David Lubin. In May–June 1905, an international conference was held in Rome, Italy, which led to the creation of the International Institute of Agriculture.
Later in 1943, the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture. Representatives from forty four governments gathered at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia from 18 May to 3 June. They committed themselves to founding a permanent organization for food and agriculture, which happened in Quebec City, Canada on 16 October 1945 with the conclusion of the Constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization. The First Session of the FAO Conference was held in the Chateau frontenac at Quebec, Canada, from 16 October to 1 November 1945.
The Second World War effectively ended the International Agricultural Institute, though it was only officially dissolved by resolution of its Permanent Committee on 27 February 1948. Its functions were then transferred to the recently established FAO