A new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates that globally 30-50% of food is wasted. (Download the report.). In the following video Trstram Stuart, author of the 2009 book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, tackles the subject. Writing in the Financial Times Tristram quoted Lord Haskins, then one of the chief advisers to the government on food and farming, as estimating that 70% of food produced in Britain is wasted. This is obviously a striking example of market efficiency.
With more than one billion people around the world considered overweight, why are so many others still starving and struggling to fill their plates? And what can be done to make the global food system more equitable?
by Aun Ali
Pakistan’s massive floods destroyed not only standing crops of the season but also vast proportions of arable land and capacities of numerous farmers to cultivate crops in the upcoming seasons. The consequences are far reaching for an impoverished country that relies heavily on its agricultural productivity and employs two-thirds of its population in this sector.
Nearly 20 million people have been directly affected, most of whom are from the rural agricultural areas and depend on agriculture to meet their food and income needs. A great number of them have been uprooted from their lands, with their household assets, investments in farm tools and animals, and food stocks all destroyed by the floods. Submerged roads and fallen bridges have disconnected access of thousands other to the rest of Pakistan. They all lack proper shelter, food, clean water, medicine, and other basic supplies. At least six million are at risk of waterborne diseases, including an estimated 3.5 million children according to U.N.
However, if the situation is terribly bad now, the worst is yet to come.
With major crops damaged or destroyed over 3.6 million hectares of cultivated land and variable food supply expected from the unaffected regions, a famine-like food crisis is imminent in many parts of the country that could be in full swing by coming spring when Pakistan’s current food stocks will start to run out. The shockwaves will be so far reaching that even the unaffected regions will not be spared.
by Ken Kelley
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now reviewing a proposal by a Massachusetts company, AquaBounty Technologies, to sell genetically engineered salmon, which grow twice as fast as wild fish. If approved, it would be the first transgenic animal to be allowed into the human food supply.
The fish, called AquAdvantage Salmon, were developed at AquaBounty’s hatchery in Prince Edward Island, Canada. They are Atlantic salmon with an added growth hormone from the faster growing Chinook salmon. Engineers additionally inserted a gene from an eel-like fish called the ocean pout into the salmon, which activates the growth hormone and keeps the fish growing all year long.
Thirteen people were killed and hundreds wounded last week in Mozambique when police cracked down on a three-day protest over a 30 percent hike in the price of bread. The UN says the riots in Mozambique should be a wake-up call for governments that have ignored food security problems since the global food crisis of 2008, when countries around the world saw angry protests in the streets over the rising prices of basic food items. In this extremely informative interview on Democracy Now!, Raj Patel connects the dots between climate change, financial speculation, land grabs across Africa, food sovereignity and global hunger.
Also check out Johann Hari’s recent article on the “speculation-starvation-bubble” behind the 2008 global ‘food crisis’, below the fold.
Today the International Red Cross released a report detailing the catastrophic results of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza. As the siege which has crippled Gazans for the past two years continues, the Red Cross found seriously ill patients facing difficulty obtaining the treatment they needed; children suffering from deep psychological problems and people whose homes and belongings were destroyed during the conflict unable to recover.
The report in full reads:
During the 22 days of the Israeli military operation, nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians. Hospitals were overwhelmed with casualties, including small children, women and elderly people. Medical personnel showed incredible courage and determination, working around the clock to save lives in extremely difficult circumstances. Meanwhile, daily rocket attacks launched from Gaza put thousands of residents at risk in southern Israel. Medical workers in Israel provided care for the traumatized population and treated and evacuated casualties.
Many people in Gaza lost a child, a parent, another relative or a friend. Israel’s military operation left thousands of homes partly or totally destroyed. Whole neighbourhoods were turned into rubble. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals and fire and ambulance stations were damaged by shelling and have to broker deals with financiers for support.
This small coastal strip is cut off from the outside world. Even before the latest hostilities, drastic restrictions on the movement of people and goods imposed by the Israeli authorities, particularly since October 2007, had led to worsening poverty, rising unemployment and deteriorating public services such as health care, water and sanitation. Insufficient cooperation between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas administration in Gaza had also hit the provision of essential services. As a result, the people of Gaza were already experiencing a major crisis affecting all aspects of daily life when hostilities intensified in late December. Continue reading “Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair”
“Officials warn of ‘destruction of all means of life’ after the three-week conflict leaves agriculture in the region in ruins”, reports Peter Beaumont in The Observer. Lest we forget, the BBC shares the blame for any suffering that might occur as a result of this shortage.
According to the World Food Programme, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.
Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme’s country director, said: “We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north – where the farming was most intensive – may not be exploitable again. It looks to me like a disaster. It is not just farmland, but poultry as well.