Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reducing waste of food: A key element in feeding billions more people

Date:
April 7, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
Families can be key players in a revolution needed to feed the world, and could save money by helping to cut food losses now occurring from field to fork to trash bin, an expert said. He described that often-invisible waste in food — 4 out of every 10 pounds produced in the United States alone — and the challenges of feeding a global population of 9 billion.

Families can be key players in a revolution needed to feed the world, and could save money by helping to cut food losses now occurring from field to fork to trash bin, an expert said in New Orleans on April 7. He described that often-invisible waste in food -- 4 out of every 10 pounds produced in the United States alone -- and the challenges of feeding a global population of 9 billion in a keynote talk at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

"We will need another 'Green Revolution' to feed the world by 2050," said John Floros, Ph.D., referring to the development of high-yield, disease-resistant breeds of grain and other agricultural innovations that took root in the 1960s. "That will mean scientific innovations, such as new strains of the big three grains -- rice, wheat and corn -- adapted for a changing climate and other conditions. It also will require action to reduce a terrible waste of food that gets too little attention."

Floros cited estimates that in many developing countries up to half of the food harvested from farmers' fields is lost before reaching consumers. He is dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University. That waste can occur due to spoilage from improper storage of grain during transportation or from pests. Rats and mice alone eat or spoil 20 percent of the world's food supply due to contamination with their urine and feces.

"A different kind of waste occurs in the United States and some other developed countries," Floros said. "Developed countries have much more efficient systems for preserving, storing, transporting and protecting food from spoilage and pests. But as a nation -- households, supermarkets, restaurants, other food-service providers -- we throw away about 4 out of every 10 pounds of food produced each year."

Government studies show, for instance, that the average family in the United States throws away 20 pounds of food a month, more than $2,000 worth every year for a family of four. It includes food that has gone uneaten and spoiled in refrigerators and on pantry shelves, as well as food that people throw away after cooking. Uneaten food actually rivals paper, plastic and other refuse as the No. 1 material in some municipal landfills.

Scientists know that food waste in landfills, for instance, releases methane gas as it decomposes. Methane is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas that fosters global warming. Floros pointed out that reducing food waste would contribute to solving other great global challenges that society faces in the 21st century, beyond feeding a booming population. Wasting food wastes the freshwater needed to grow it, at a time when 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water. It also wastes energy, fertilizers, pesticides and other resources used in the food supply.

Supplying more food, however, is only part of the challenge, Floros emphasized. "Millions of people in some developing countries are becoming more affluent. In the past, people were satisfied with food that filled them up and sustained life. Increasingly, they will demand food that is convenient to prepare, certified as safe and highly nutritious and tastes good."

He cited the People's Republic of China as an example. The middle class in China is now larger than the U.S. population and is increasing in size year by year. And people in China are now consuming almost 3 times as much meat compared to a few decades ago. Demand for convenience foods also is rising with the growth of the urban population.

Several other food-related challenges lie ahead, Floros pointed out. Water, for instance, is becoming scarcer, as is fertile farmland. Global climate change may stress those resources even further. The demand for sustainable energy may divert more cropland to production of crops for biofuel production. Economic conditions threaten less investment in agricultural research and development. Drought and other extreme weather could impact food production. And consumption of too much food and less nutritious foods underpins epidemics in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

"We're not doing enough to resolve these complex issues that are critical for providing 9-10 billion people with a nutritious diet," said Floros. "Consumers, industry, universities and governments all need to pitch in. The first step is more awareness of these issues and the need for action on multiple levels of society."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "Reducing waste of food: A key element in feeding billions more people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407183539.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2013, April 7). Reducing waste of food: A key element in feeding billions more people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407183539.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "Reducing waste of food: A key element in feeding billions more people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407183539.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What Self-Made Women Need to Know Financially Before Getting Hitched

What Self-Made Women Need to Know Financially Before Getting Hitched

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) Halle Berry was recently ordered to pay her ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry $16,000 a month in child support by a California judge for their daughter Nahla. As women make strides in the workforce, they are increasingly left holding the bag when relationships end regardless of marital status. 'What Monied Women Need to Know Before Getting Married or Cohabitating' discusses information such as debt incurred during the marriage is both spouse's responsibility at divorce, whether after ten years of marriage spouses are entitled to half of everything and why property acquired within the marriage is fair game without a pre-nup. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Reuters - US Online Video (July 18, 2014) The FCC received more than 800,000 comments on whether and how internet speeds should be regulated, even crashing its system. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfire Tears Through Washington

Raw: Wildfire Tears Through Washington

AP (July 18, 2014) A large wildfire continued to gain steam through north-central Washington Friday. The blaze is already responsible for the destruction of at least 100 homes. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins