Australian food wastage could feed millions

In the next 40 years, according to the UN Environment Program, world food output must rise 110 per cent to meet the demands of population growth and improving diets in places such as China, India and Latin America, notes Julian Cribb, adjunct professor of science communication at the University of Technology, Sydney in The Australian (12/7/2006, p.36).

Facts on Australian food wasting:

• Of all the nutrients applied on our farms, up to half are wasted, in that they do not go to crops or pastures but are lost to soil lock-up, weeds, erosion, leaching or run-off.

• The industry that processes our food spends $750 million a year just to dispose of its waste.

• One-third to one-half of all the food that enters our shops, supermarkets, restaurants and homes is thrown away.

• Our cities waste 97 per cent of their sewage effluent and its nutrients.

Wasted food could feed 30-60 million people: If these estimates are sound, in theory it is possible to feed an extra 30 million to 60 million people on an Australian diet with the nutrients we presently chuck into landfills and the ocean.

Price of fertiliser to continue huge increases? In the past 30 years, the price of fertiliser has risen by an average 1000 per cent, about twice the rate of oil price increases. What’s going to happen in the next 40 years when world food output has to more than double?

Nutrients to become scarce commodities? Nutrients may become expensive and even scarce commodities, especially as some of them are being used to grow transport fuels and therefore replace oil.

Australian dairy industry pioneers nutrient cycle research: Australia has an excellent record in learning to manage nutrients on farms. The dairy industry in particular has done much pioneering work on the nutrient cycle to minimise the loss of nutrients down the creek.

Humans lose ’45pc of all terrestrial bioproductivity’: US environmental scientist Peter Raven recently remarked that humans use or destroy 45 per cent of all terrestrial bioproductivity.

The Australian, 12/7/2006, p. 36

Source: Erisk Net  

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.