The Sunday Edition

Global food security guru Tim Benton: Hunger, food shortages & overeating

We all know that we in the developed world, eat too much. We're bombarded with warnings about the obesity epidemic every day. But all those extra calories are not only a threat to our waistlines, they're a threat to global security as well.  Because everything that well-off people in the developed world eat ... or even worse, throw away ......
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We all know that we in the developed world, eat too much. We're bombarded with warnings about the obesity epidemic every day.

But all those extra calories are not only a threat to our waistlines, they're a threat to global security as well.  Because everything that well-off people in the developed world eat ... or even worse, throw away ... is food that isn't feeding the impoverished and hungry of the developing world. 
 
Pope Francis has equated food waste with "stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry." 

As of 2011, 1.3 billion tons of food, or about one third of all the food produced globally, are lost or wasted annually. 

In developed countries, the average person wastes about 100 kilograms of food every year.  

Overeating and food waste are only one end of the problem. You might not notice it on your grocery bill, but food prices are also skyrocketing. Between 2006 and 2008, average world prices for rice jumped by 217 per cent; wheat climbed 136 per cent; corn 125 per cent and soybeans 107 per cent.

The World Food Programme estimates that 870 million people worldwide do not have access to enough food to be healthy. And with the global population expected to increase 50 per cent, or three billion people, by 2050 ... it's only going to get worse. 

Food shortages have already caused massive social and political unrest, contributing to revolutions that toppled governments in Haiti and Madagascar in 2008 and 2009, after the global price spikes.

And the riots in Tunisia that triggered the Arab Spring were initially dismissed by the government as just another round of protests over the rising cost of bread, which had sporadically hit the country for decades. 

Tim Benton has been watching all these developments closely.
 
He's a professor of population ecology at the University of Leeds and holds the rather intriguing title of UK Champion for Global Food Security. 



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