World hunger – a meat question?

By Julia Jamila Werner 28 December 2016, 12:00AM

On these shores, ask people where they would rank meat-eating as an issue of concern and most might be surprised to hear you suggest that it’s an issue at all. Whether you eat meat or not (or how much) is a private matter, they might say. But it’s not one of the high-profile public issues you’d expect presidential candidates or senators to be debating—not up there with terrorism, the economy, the war, or “the environment.” 

According to the world nutrition organization F.A.O, around about 870 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment. 

Developing-political efforts have lead to a ten-points-programme to ensure food protection which is a fight against the world hunger, the German federal development minister Dirk Niebel said. 

A danger foreseen is a danger avoided? 

One of the most important aspects is still left out of consideration – the high consumption of meet.

In Samoa the meat consumption per person per year totals 87.2 kg, statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O) in 2008 revealed. 

As opposed to this, Bangladesh only has a consumption of 4 kg meat per person per year. The United States of America leads the outstanding result with 120.2 kg per person per year.

The world already produces enough food for everyone, but around one third of it is discarded or spoils in transport or storage before reaching consumers, according to the F.A.O. 

In rich countries, individuals and grocery stores are responsible for most of the waste when they throw away imperfect vegetables or products they think are no longer safe to eat. Developing countries lose roughly a third of their edibles due to poor refrigeration systems and infrastructure bottlenecks, which prevent food from reaching the market.

“Today we could easily feed everyone - it’s a distribution issue,” said Michael Obersteiner of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, an Austria-based think tank.

Meeting the hunger goal by 2030 may be possible if funding were available to cut waste along the supply chain, and yields continued to climb, he said.

But by 2050, climate and population pressures - alongside an expanding global middle-class with an appetite for meat - will make it harder to keep up the momentum on zero hunger. “Diets will have to change,” Obersteiner said.

Today half the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock farming, which is far less efficient for feeding people - and worse for the environment - than producing grain, fruit and vegetables for direct human consumption. Fresh water, like land, seemed inexhaustible for most of the first 10 millennia of civilization. So, it didn’t seem to matter how much a cow drank. 

But a few years ago, water experts calculated that we humans are now taking half the available fresh water on the planet—leaving the other half to be divided among a million or more species. 

Since we depend on many of those species for our own survival (they provide all the food we eat and oxygen we breathe, among other services), that hogging of water poses a dilemma.  If we break it down, species by species, we find that the heaviest water use is by the animals we raise for meat. One of the easiest ways to reduce demand for water is to reduce the amount of meat we eat.

By Julia Jamila Werner 28 December 2016, 12:00AM

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