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Brussels: reducing waste first piece in food resource puzzle

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Brussels: reducing waste first piece in food resource puzzle

To tackle pollution and climate change, policy-makers, NGOs and industry alike support more vegetables in Europeans' diets, while insisting on better use of resources and waste-management, EurActiv informs.
Vegetable-based foods such as potatoes, pulses and soy have a lower carbon footprint than animal products, which are responsible for about 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions for the food sector, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from September. Even though, vegetables still constitute 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions they are considered more resource efficient in terms of water and land use, the report says.
According to Bernard Deryckere, president of the European Natural Soyfood Manufacturers association (ENSA), an obvious solution to improve the sustainability of the European food systems is “to rebalance our consumption of animal-based products with more resource efficient foods that contain similar protein levels”. “Our view is that soy and plant-based foods can provide an answer as they consistently out-perform animal products when comparing their environmental impact in terms of CO2 emissions, land and water use,” he said.
Pulses, such as peas and beans, are efficient sources of protein when compared with animal sources, because they require fewer inputs per kilogramme produced, according to the FAO study. However, the picture becomes more complex when figures of food waste are taken into account. The the FAO report build a single “carbon intensity” rating which is the combination of the two figures, for greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint through wastage. Meat products account for just 15% of global food wastage, whereas some 21% of vegetable and cereal food is wasted along the food chain, whether in fields, processing plants, supermarkets or homes.
According to the FAO report, the world wastes about 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food each year, roughly one third of the amount that it produces. Janez Potočnik, the European commissioner for the environment said that the statistics made food waste the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the United States. “When you consider that there are 870 million people going hungry every day, these figures are more astonishing,” he concluded.

Source: EurActiv