Saturday 22nd October 2016                 Change text size:

Tackle food waste to tackle inequality, government report says

food waste by Taz via flickr

The House of Commons international development committee has called on Britons to tackle food waste and eat less meat, and suggested regulation over agriculturally produced biofuels to help developing countries and meet growing population needs.

In a study called Global Food Security, it claims that the UK should reduce food waste and reconsider the effectiveness of biofuels at home while providing support to farmers in the developing world as the global population increases and food security becomes crucial.

Earlier this year, a report revealed that 30-50% of food produced globally is simply wasted.

Committee chair Sir Malcolm Bruce said, “UK aid to help smallholders increase food production in the developing world is of direct benefit to UK consumers as rising world food prices will reduce living standards of hard-pressed UK consumers.

We have seen two notable ‘shocks’ or ‘spikes’ in global food prices over recent years, with price peaks in June 2008 and February 2011.

“These crises – driven by rising demand for food and by the impact of biofuels produced through agriculture – hurt many parts of the UK food industry and strongly undermined the global fight against hunger.”

Bruce said that British people should reduce food waste at home and cut their meat consumption while promoting more sustainable farming practices.

He then asked the UK government to review its domestic Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) policy so that it excludes agriculturally produced biofuels both on a national and European stage.

Biofuels are often criticised because of their potentially negative effects on health and because they displace crops that can be designated for food.

However, trade body the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said it is deeply concerned about the committee’s positions over biofuels.

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said, “The committee did not invite any witnesses from the industry, and therefore did not hear about the benefits biofuels can bring in enhancing food security and reducing carbon emissions.

Strict sustainability criteria ensure only biofuels with high carbon savings count towards renewable energy targets.”

She added, “Removing support for crop-based biofuels wholesale would mean the destruction of thousands of jobs, see millions of pounds of investment squandered and increase the cost of meeting renewable energy targets.”

The report also looked at the developing world, expressing commitment to improve health and social conditions of local communities and calling for clear regulation over land and land grabbing by big corporations.

Further reading:

Tesco to take ‘leading role’ in reducing food waste

UK to invest £10m in biofuels as report outlines negative health effects

Enough Food for Everyone IF: landmark anti-poverty campaign launched

World wasting up to half of global food

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