MR: it’s not just foodprint; it’s number of feet

4 June 2013

Media Releases 2013

Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) supports this year’s World Environment Day antifood waste and food loss campaign that encourages people to reduce their food footprint, or ‘foodprint’. SPA maintains, however, that while reducing food waste is essential, future food security also depends on a rapid end to population growth.

SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says food insecurity looms very large on the global horizon, a function of too many people relative to available land and water, as well as climate change and conversion of food crops to fuel.

“Of course there is maldistribution of food and too much is wasted.  Reducing waste, however, will help deal with the supply side but won’t necessarily be enough for allow supply to match ever-growing demand. Some of that demand comes from people eating higher up the food chain, but much of it comes from population growth.

“Egypt is a stark example of a country falling into a Malthusian trap,” says Ms Goldie.  “It was once a major agricultural exporter, but as its population quadrupled, Egypt became one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, paid for by oil export dollars. A surge in world wheat prices after 2006 combined with a drying up of oil export dollars has lead to economic crisis in Egypt, where highly subsidised bread had been deemed a social entitlement.”

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the global food production occupies 25 per cent of all habitable land and is responsible for 70 per cent of fresh water consumption, 80 per cent of deforestation, and 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.

“Surely we have reached the limits of how much land we can appropriate to feed human beings, “says Ms Goldie. “Yes, reducing food waste is critical but that may only be enough to maintain supply for the next billion people that are expected by 2025.”

Further information: Jenny Goldie 0401 921 453

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