So much food wasted, yet poverty is claiming lives
BEIJING. - One point three billion metric tonnes - that's how much food that we waste each year. Not an easy number to wrap one's head around.
Try to imagine 143 000 Eiffel
Towers stacked one on top of
the other-together they'd
weigh around 1.3 billion
tonnes. The sheer scale of the
number makes it practically
impossible to grasp, no matter
how you come at it.
Rendering the figure all the
more unfathomable is the fact
that alongside this massive
wastage of food, 840 million
people experience chronic
hunger on a daily basis.
Many more millions suffer
from "silent hunger" - malnutrition
and micronutrient deficiencies.
For the more economically
minded, here's another number:
the economic cost of food
wastage runs around US$750
billion per annum. This is expressed
in producer prices; if
we were to consider retail
prices and the wider impacts
on the environment including
climate change, the figure
would be far higher.
In times of austerity, it's difficult
to understand how a
haemorrhage of money like this
could go neglected. Yet it does.
In fact, in some places, the volume
of food wastage is rising.
Now a new report by the UN
Food and Agriculture
Organisation, to be spotlighted
at the Green Growth Forum this
week in Copenhagen, has shed
light on another troubling aspect
of the problem: the negative
consequences for the environment
and the natural resources
we rely on for our survival.
When food is lost or wasted,
the energy, land and water resources
that went into producing
it are also squandered -
while at the same time large
amounts of greenhouse gases
are released into the atmosphere
during production, processing,
We simply cannot tolerate
the wastage of 1,3 billion
tonnes of food per year-onethird
of the world's annual food
Not from an ethical or environmental
perspective, not from
an economic or development
perspective, and certainly not
from a food security perspective.
This is why seriously cutting
down on food loss and waste is
one of the five elements of UN
Secretary General Ban Kimoon's
Zero Hunger Challenge
and a major focus of the UN
High Level Task Force on Global
We are working together
within the UN system and with
a broad coalition of other partners
to rise to that challenge, that
also calls for 100 percent access
to adequate food all year round;
to eliminate childhood stunting;
to make all food systems sustainable;
and to eradicate rural poverty.
There's a lot that can be done.
To begin with, food losses and
waste need to be seen as a crosscutting
policy issue, rather than
a lifestyle choice to be left in the
hands of individual consumers
and their consciences. The world
needs to wake up to the need for
policies on food waste and losses
that look at all stages of the food
chain, from production to consumption.
- China Daily.