Fighting food waste, feeding the planet

An article written by Kasia Szyma?ska, final-year veterinary student at University College Dublin, has been published in the BVA Veterinary Record.

The following is an excerpt from Kasia's article entitled "Fighting food waste, feeding the planet", and is reproduced here with the author's permission. The full article can be accessed at this link:

In October, Kasia Szyma?ska, a final-year veterinary student at University College Dublin was invited to attend a conference organised by the European Commission on preventing food waste. As she discusses here, she believes that vets have an important role to play in optimising food production and minimising waste

Food waste is an issue of increasing global concern. In October, the European Commission (EC) hosted a conference on fighting food waste and feeding the planet at the FOOD EXPO in Milan, Italy, to address this important issue. Attendees at the conference came from various sectors ranging from industry to government and included several European ministers of food, agriculture and livestock. Veterinary representatives from academia, the pharmaceutical industry, animal welfare organisations and regulatory authorities were also in attendance.

Scale of the problem

During the conference, new data collected by FUSIONS EU on food waste and its environmental impact were released. Although a final report is due in spring 2016, the preliminary results indicated that the 28 EU member states produce about 100 million tonnes of food waste every year, and that about 45 per cent of this is generated from households. Love Food Hate Waste, a group aimed at providing information to the public on how to eliminate food waste, estimates that 1.2 million yogurts and 6 million glasses of milk are thrown away from UK homes each day. Both FUSIONS and Love Food Hate Waste representatives took part in a panel discussion on actions that prevent and reduce food waste from farm to fork.

One of the keynote speeches of the day came from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The FAO has reported that the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten ranks as the third top emitter of greenhouse gases after the USA and China at an estimated 3.3 G tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Globally, the water lost during food wastage is about 250 km3, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the river Volga, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. If all the produced but uneaten food were consolidated, it would occupy almost 1.4 billion hectares of land, or nearly 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land area.

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