GMO Bananas…Straight to Human Trial

It seems like each day has more stupidity paid for by taxpayer dollars with the overages charged to future generations. In Des Moines, they are doing a straight to human GMO banana trial, which is described below. If my daughter was willing to do this for the $900 offered, I would be deeply ashamed and upset. Despite our bilateral symmetry, we are only given one earthly vessel to occupy. Please read the article and share it around. It’s linked on the title:

naturalnews.com

Originally published September 16 2014

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Human trials with a new genetically modified (GM) banana with artificial levels of the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene are set to begin this fall without prior animal testing. Researchers plan to feed the “frankenfruit” to college students attending Iowa State University (ISU), though details outlining how the study will be conducted and whether or not students will know what they are eating have been limited.

The Des Moines Register (DMR) reports that 12 female students out of 500 who responded to a call for volunteers will be selected in the next few months to eat the GM banana for four days during three separate study periods. Each participant will receive $900 in compensation for her participation, the outcome of which is entirely unknown, as the GM banana in question has never before been tested on a living organism, let alone a human being.

A project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the GM banana is intended for cultivation and use in poor African countries, where vitamin A deficiency is widespread. Like the infamous GM “Golden Rice,” which has failed in every trial thus far conducted, the novel GM banana is being offered up as the solution to vitamin A deficiency, even though there are plenty of other natural fruits and vegetables like mangoes and sweet potatoes that already contain high levels of beta-carotene.

Why won’t Gates’ scientists test GM banana on animals first?

Besides the controversial nature of the project itself — foods genetically modified to contain added nutrients have repeatedly been shown to harm humans — many are wondering why animal trials are not being conducted on the new GM banana. European regulations require that any proposed new GMO first be tested on animals for at least 90 days, but in this case scientists are rushing it straight to humans.

This amounts to gross experimentation on humans, cut from the same fabric as Nazi scientists who during World War II performed heinous medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. It is impossible for those participating in such a trial to give informed consent because they have no idea what they’re consenting to — and neither do the scientists who will be performing the experiments!

“Going straight from GMO development to human trials is exactly what happened with the GM golden rice trials, where GM golden rice was fed to children without informed consent and without prior animal testing,” wrote Claire Robinson for GMWatch.eu. “The lack of animal testing was condemned by international scientists as a breach of the Nuremberg Code, established after World War II to prevent a repeat of Nazi experiments on humans.”

Natural bananas with high amounts of beta-carotene already exist

When confronted with the fact that beta-carotene-rich bananas already exist in nature, scientists backing the GM banana project humorously tried to claim that people living in East Africa probably wouldn’t eat them because, get this — they’re too sweet for their tastes. Thus, it is essential that Bill Gates & Co. swoop in and save the day with a man-madebanana that could end up killing the target population in the end.

Such lunacy is what drives the genetic scientists pushing this type of nonsense on the world, when something as simple as inexpensive vitamin A supplements would be more than adequate at addressing deficiency in the Third World. Either that, or teaching people in these countries to grow foods that are naturally rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoid precursors to vitamin A.

“Like Golden Rice, these wannabe super heroes from the West will fail with their silver bullet for what is a complex societal & ecological problem,” wrote one DMR commenter. “The first step to helping these kids would be to stop dumping our surplus corn into their economy at below the cost of production.”

“Diversity in agriculture is the answer to the dietary problems afar and in our own [country]. Doubling down, with fingers crossed, on biotech silver bullets will not help… and if history is any indicator, we’ll probably just make it worse.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.gmwatch.eu

http://www.desmoinesregister.com

http://www.independentsciencenews.org

http://science.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com



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Study Indicates Glyphosate (Round Up) Doubles Chance of Lymphoma

With Amendment 1 on the ballot here in Missouri for August 5th, this is terrifically pertinent information. NO independent studies of long term exposure or ingestion have been done in the US!

Study: Glyphosate Doubles Risk of Lymphoma

Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer have found what appears to be a strong link between pesticide exposure and a blood cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Analyzing 44 individual research projects published since 1980, the scientists, writing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said that people exposed to the weed killer glyphosate, marked by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup, had double the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Those exposed to 2,4-D, another potent weed killer marketed by Dow Chemical, were 40 percent more likely to develop this disease.

The authors, scientists who work in the IARC Section of Environment and Radiation in Lyon, France, theorized that these pesticides were causing genetic mutations in white blood cells, thereby weakening the body’s immune system and ability to fight off disease.

Previous studies have observed that farmers with exposure to 2,4-D have experienced impaired immune systems.

Last month, EWG reported that research by scientists at the Arctic University of Norway had detected “extreme levels” of glyphosate on genetically engineered soybeans.

Crop scientists have genetically engineered soy to survive blasts of glyphosate so that farmers can use this chemical to get rid of weeds near crops. Over time these weeds have become resistant to glyphosate and grown hardier. In turn some farmers have resorted to spraying more of the pesticide to try to kill the tougher “super weeds.”

Genetic engineering’s early promise to reduce pesticide use now seems empty. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that herbicide use doubled—from 62 million pounds in 1996 to 128 million pounds in 2012. Glyphosate now represents more than 83 percent of the chemical pesticides used in the U.S. annually.

The IARC study was published April 23, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was considering approving GE seeds of corn and soybeans engineered to withstand 2,4-D, a suspected carcinogen. If the EPA approves the new GE seeds and if 2,4-D is used to kill weeds on some of the 170 million acres of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. annually, the USDA estimates that 2,4-D use is likely to triple, dramatically increasing people’s exposure to a pesticide that may cause cancer.

How can consumers reduce their exposures to these pesticides? When we eat GE foods, we are taking a dose of pesticides with them. Right now, we can’t tell which foods are genetically engineered. We have to guess. EWG believes people have the right to know which foods are genetically engineered. What can you do? Tell your elected representatives to support legislation to label GE foods.

Note from Food Revolution Network: Additional tools for reducing pesticide and GE food exposure are the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce and the Institute for Responsible Technology’s non-GMO shopping guide.

No More Artisan Cheese for Americans

The FDA, Food Destruction Agency, has “clarified” their stance on cheese aged on wood. Short take, not allowed any longer in the US; and because of the lovely take over of all food granted them by the Corporate Board Members referred to as “Congress” under the Food Safety Modernization Act, no cheese imported to the US will be allowed to have been aged on wood either.

If you have thus far failed to see what is happening in this nation and across the world, I’ll sum it up for you. There will be no innovation and no creativity allowed. Our Heavenly Father’s creative attributes that He instills in us as we are created in His image is to be annihilated by rule, regulation, insurance premiums, or other “safety” measure.

This is an excellent article on the issue of cheese and the FDA. Don’t worry, whatever you desire to create/produce will be similarly regulated and destroyed…if it hasn’t already been regulated to death.

Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging

A sense of disbelief and distress is quickly rippling through the U.S. artisan cheese community, as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it will not permit American cheesemakers to age cheese on wooden boards.

Recently, the FDA inspected several New York state cheesemakers and cited them for using wooden surfaces to age their cheeses. The New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets’ Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services, which (like most every state in the U.S., including Wisconsin), has allowed this practice, reached out to FDA for clarification on the issue. A response was provided by Monica Metz, Branch Chief of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s (CFSAN) Dairy and Egg Branch.

In the response, Metz stated that the use of wood for cheese ripening or aging is considered an unsanitary practice by FDA, and a violation of FDA’s current Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations. Here’s an excerpt:

“Microbial pathogens can be controlled if food facilities engage in good manufacturing practice. Proper cleaning and sanitation of equipment and facilities are absolutely necessary to ensure that pathogens do not find niches to reside and proliferate. Adequate cleaning and sanitation procedures are particularly important in facilities where persistent strains of pathogenic microorganisms like Listeria monocytogenes could be found. The use of wooden shelves, rough or otherwise, for cheese ripening does not conform to cGMP requirements, which require that “all plant equipment and utensils shall be so designed and of such material and workmanship as to be adequately cleanable, and shall be properly maintained.” 21 CFR 110.40(a). Wooden shelves or boards cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitized. The porous structure of wood enables it to absorb and retain bacteria, therefore bacteria generally colonize not only the surface but also the inside layers of wood. The shelves or boards used for aging make direct contact with finished products; hence they could be a potential source of pathogenic microorganisms in the finished products.”

The most interesting part of the FDA’s statement it that it does not consider this to be a new policy, but rather an enforcement of an existing policy. And worse yet, FDA has reiterated that it does not intend to change this policy.

In an email to industry professionals, Rob Ralyea, Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Food Science and the Pilot Plant Manager at Cornell University in New York, says: “According to the FDA this is merely proper enforcement of the policy that was already in place. While the FDA has had jurisdiction in all food plants, it deferred cheese inspections almost exclusively to the states. This has all obviously changed under FSMA.”

Ah, FSMA. For those of you not in the know, the Food Safety Modernization Act is the most sweeping reform of American food safety laws in generations. It was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011 and aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

While most cheesemakers have, perhaps, begrudgingly accepted most of what has been coming down the FSMA pike, including the requirement of HACCP plans and increased federal regulations and inspections, no one expected this giant regulation behemoth to virtually put a stop to innovation in the American artisanal cheese movement.

Many of the most awarded and well-respected American artisan cheeses are currently aged on wooden boards. American Cheese Society triple Best in Show winner Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese in Wisconsin is cured on wooden boards. Likewise for award-winners Cabot Clothbound in Vermont, current U.S. Champion cheese Marieke Feonegreek, and 2013 Best in Show Runner-Up Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar.

Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli says the FDA’s “clarified” stance on using wooden boards is a “potentially devastating development” for American cheesemakers. He and his family have spent the past eight years re-building Roelli Cheese into a next-generation American artisanal cheese factory. Just last year, he built what most would consider to be a state-of-the-art aging facility into the hillside behind his cheese plant. And Roelli, like hundreds of American artisanal cheesemaekrs, has developed his cheese recipes specifically to be aged on wooden boards.

“The very pillar that we built our niche business on is the ability to age our cheese on wood planks, an art that has been practiced in Europe for thousands of years,” Roelli says. Not allowing American cheesemakers to use this practice puts them “at a global disadvantage because the flavor produced by aging on wood can not be duplicated. This is a major game changer for the dairy industry in Wisconsin, and many other states.”

As if this weren’t all bad enough, the FDA has also “clarified” – I’m really beginning to dislike that word – that in accordance with FSMA, a cheesemaker importing cheese to the United States is subject to the same rules and inspection procedures as American cheesemakers.

Therefore, Cornell University’s Ralyea says, “It stands to reason that if an importer is using wood boards, the FDA would keep these cheeses from reaching our borders until the cheese maker is in compliance. The European Union authorizes and allows the use of wood boards. Further, the great majority of cheeses imported to this country are in fact aged on wooden boards and some are required to be aged on wood by their standard of identity (Comte, Beaufort and Reblochon, to name a few). Therefore, it will be interesting to see how these specific cheeses will be dealt with when it comes to importation into the United States.”

Ralyea continues: “While most everyone agrees that Listeria is a major concern to the dairy industry, it appears that some food safety agencies interpret the science to show that wood boards can be maintained in a sanitary fashion to allow for their use for cheese aging, while others (e.g., the US FDA) believe that a general ban of any wooden materials in food processing facilities is the better approach to assure food safety. At this point, it seems highly unlikely that any new research data or interpretations will change the FDA policies in place.”

In fact, many research papers do in fact conclude that wooden boards are safe. In 2013, the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research published a paper on the subject, concluding: “Considering the beneficial effects of wood boards on cheese ripening and rind formation, the use of wood boards does not seem to present any danger of contamination by pathogenic bacteria as long as a thorough cleaning procedure is followed.” You can read the whole report on pages 8-9 by clicking on this link.

Interesting side note: Health Canada does not currently have any regulations prohibiting aging and ripening cheese on wood, so apparently if we want to eat most American or European artisan cheeses, we’ll need to drive across the border to do so.

So what’s next? The American Cheese Society has mobilized its Regulatory & Academic Committee to learn more about this issue, and to ensure its members’ interests are represented. The ACS promises to keep us apprised of developments. In the meantime, if you are a cheesemaker, and your operation is inspected and cited for the use of wooden surfaces, please contact the ACS office (720-328-2788 or info@cheesesociety.org).

 

Food Poisoning at Food Safety Summit….LOLOLOLOLOLOL!

A little something to brighten your day! So much for the control freaks success!

Not even the national Food Safety Summit is immune from food poisoning. More than 100 people who attended the meeting earlier this month in Baltimore were stricken by a possible outbreak of gastroenteritis that left attendees suffering terrible bouts of diarrhea and nausea, reports NBC News.

The conference was attended by 1,300 of the nation’s “top food safety officials” including employees from the Food and Drug Administration, McDonald’s, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of those sickened might be even larger than the reported 100, since event organizers have only heard back from a third of those who attended.

“We are working on evaluating possible exposures and doing testing at the Maryland state public health laboratory to attempt to identify an agent,” officials said in a letter addressed to attendees.

- - Jordan Valinsky

BLM Wrecks Infrastructure at Bunkerville

This makes me wonder who is going to pay for fixing what the BLM has wrecked. I know that none of those who damaged  things they don’t own will do the right thing, but will the administration that pays them to stomp on America? I know…”The meatball says ‘NO!”‘ Once upon a time, this kind of behavior would have resulted in hanging.

I want the BLM to pay. I guess it’s good to want things.

Feds accused of leaving trail of wreckage after Nevada ranch standoff

 

The federal agency that backed down over the weekend in a tense standoff with a Nevada rancher is being accused of leaving a trail of wreckage behind.

Fox News toured the damage — allegedly caused by the Bureau of Land Management — which included holes in water tanks and destroyed water lines and fences. According to family friends, the bureau’s hired “cowboys” also killed two prize bulls.

“They had total control of this land for one week, and look at the destruction they did in one week,” said Corey Houston, friend of rancher Cliven Bundy and his family. “So why would you trust somebody like that? And how does that show that they’re a better steward?”

The BLM and other law enforcement officials backed down on Saturday in their effort to seize Bundy’s cattle, after hundreds of protesters, some armed, arrived to show support for the Bundy family. In the end, BLM officials left the scene amid concerns about safety, and no shots were fired.

The dispute between the feds and the Bundy family has been going on for years; they say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees — and long ago revoked his grazing rights over concern for a federally protected tortoise. They sent officials to round up his livestock following a pair of federal court orders last year giving the U.S. government the authority to impound the cattle.

The feds, though, are being accused of taking the court orders way too far.

On a Friday night conference call, BLM officials told reporters that “illegal structures” on Bundy’s ranch — water tanks, water lines and corrals — had to be removed to “restore” the land to its natural state and prevent the rancher from restarting his illegal cattle operation.

However, the court order used to justify the operation appears only to give the agency the authority to “seize and impound” Bundy’s cattle.

“Nowhere in the court order that I saw does it say that they can destroy infrastructure, destroy corrals, tanks … desert environment, shoot cattle,” Houston said.

Bundy’s friends say the BLM wranglers told them the bulls were shot because they were dangerous and could gore their horses. One bull was shot five times.

But Houston said the pen holding the bull wasn’t even bent. “It’s not like the bull was smashing this pen and trying tackle people or anything,” he said. “The pen is sitting here. It hasn’t moved. No damage whatsoever. Where was the danger with that bull?”

Plus he said BLM vehicles appear to have crushed a tortoise burrow near the damaged water tank. “How’s that conservation?” he asked.

The BLM has not yet responded to a request for comment on these allegations.

Bundy has refused to pay the grazing fees or remove his cattle, and doesn’t even acknowledge the federal government’s authority to assess or collect damages.

The bureau has said if Bundy wasn’t willing to pay, then they would sell his cattle.

However, there was a problem with that plan — few in Nevada would touch Bundy’s cattle for fear of being blacklisted.

“The sale yards are very nervous about taking what in the past has been basically stolen cattle from the federal government,” Nevada Agriculture Commissioner Ramona Morrison said.

Documents show the BLM paid a Utah cattle wrangler $966,000 to collect Bundy’s cattle and a Utah auctioneer to sell them. However, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert refused to let Bundy cattle cross state lines, saying in a letter: “As Governor of Utah, I urgently request that a herd of cattle seized by the Bureau of Land Management from Mr. Cliven Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada, not be sent to Utah. There are serious concerns about human safety and animal health and well-being, if these animals are shipped to and sold in Utah.”

That letter was sent three days before the BLM round-up, which is why the cattle were still being held Saturday in temporary pens just a few miles from Bundy’s ranch. Morrison says BLM was sitting on cattle because it had no way to get rid of them — setting up a potential tragedy as orphaned calves were not getting any milk and feed costs were about to skyrocket.

The showdown is far from over. The BLM says it will “continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” though Bundy still doesn’t recognize federal authority over the federal lands that he continues to use in violation of a court order. The federal judge who issued that decision says Bundy’s claims “are without merit.”

That order from October 2013 says Bundy owes $200 per day per head for every day he fails to move his cattle. That amounts to roughly $640 million in damages owed to the federal government for illegally grazing his cattle.

William La Jeunesse joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in March 1998 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.

 

Monsanto Protection Act is Now Law

If people remember, before Obama became President he said he would get GMO’s labeled…Ha! Instead, in the standard American corporate government method, he just gave the go ahead for massive expansion of GMO crops. While other nations are firmly constraining and refusing these aberrations, we get more of them here. Almost makes on want to move to a non-GMO country. Even China is refusing to accept shipments of this garbage.

More ‘Corporate Welfare': Obama Signs ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ Into Law
Just signed provision prevents federal courts from stopping the planting of genetically engineered crops, despite health, environmental consequences

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” said Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety. (Photo: Peter Blanchard/flickr)
President Obama signed what has been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” on Tuesday, legislation critics say amounts to “corporate welfare” for biotechnology corporations like Monsanto, and puts farmers and the environment in jeopardy.

Summing up the provision in H.R. 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, Eric Darier, a senior campaigner on sustainable agriculture at Greenpeace International explains that it

will effectively bar US federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops even if they failed to be approved by the government’s own weak approval process and no matter what the health or environmental consequences might be.
The rider from H.R. 933 reads:

 

Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes that the rider presents a “threat to farmers and the environment,” and that while the rider’s language indicates that steps will be taken “…to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects…,” historical evidence shows that there are indeed risks. In 2006, for example,

unapproved GE rice owned by Bayer, probably originating from a small, short-term controlled field trial in Arkansas, was found to have contaminated the U.S. rice supply. That little incident resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost rice exports and farmer lawsuits that continued for years. [...]

A similar threat exists to the environment in the form of gene flow—the transfer of genes from one organism to another—from crops to wild cousins, or from poorly domesticated cultivated plants like forest trees or grasses grown for lumber, pulp, or biofuel.

In fact, gene flow of glyphosate herbicide-resistant creeping bentgrass has already occurred…twice. This also happened from temporary field trials that were conducted in Central Oregon and nearby Idaho specifically to prevent gene flow! USDA mandated an isolation zone of 900 feet around the trial, but gene flow occurred up to 13 miles from the Oregon site.
There could be “long-lasting and serious consequences” from the rider, writes Appetite for Profit author Michele Simon. “This list of pending petitions to USDA to approve genetically-engineered crops includes new versions of corn, soybean, canola, and cotton. Once these crops get planted, it will be too late to do much about it.”

The Center for Food Safety writes that it was Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee (D-MD), who allowed the legislation to move forward without hearings and without bringing it in front of the Agriculture or Judiciary Committees.

“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.

This is the kind of deal biotechnology corporations have been hoping for, according to Food Democracy Now!, a group that has been campaigning against the GE rider. “Since losing a court case in 2010 to Center for Food Safety for the unlawful planting of GMO sugar beets, Monsanto and other biotech companies have been desperate to find a way around court mandated environmental impact statements required as a result of a U.S. district court’s ruling,” the group writes.

Gurian-Sherman writes that the rider has biotechnology corporations’ fingerprints all over it:

It was introduced anonymously, without accountability. But let me stick my neck out and say that it is highly likely that the biotech industry influenced the introduction and passing of this rider. Monsanto spends more money influencing our government than any other agriculture company. It spent millions, more than any other firm, to defeat the efforts in California to label engineered foods.
In her post titled “Monsanto Teams up with Congress to Shred the Constitution,” Simon adds that this is “such a big deal” because

The court system is often our last hope, with Congress, the White House, and regulatory agencies deep inside industry’s pocket. Several legal challenges have resulted in court decisions overturning USDA’s approval of new GMO crops, for example, sugar beets.
So the biotech industry, unable to make its case to a judge, figured why not just rewrite the Constitution instead…
Darier concludes that the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ ultimately shows the power corporations wield at the expense of democracy:

This should also be a reminder to all of us across the world of the ability of some corporations like Monsanto to influence policymakers to adopt measures that are against sustainable agriculture, farmers, consumers and the environment. And let’s add now to this list: independent judicial review! A very sad day for democracy and the future of our food.
_____________________________

 

US Wastes Billions of Dollars of Food

The USDA has done a report on the amount of food wastage in the US. Interestingly, this is at a time right before food prices are going to sky rocket. One thing that has apparently not been addressed in this report is the regulatory and insurance side of the profligate waste we appear to have.

Morningland Dairy was forced to waste about $250,000 dollars of cheese that hadn’t made one person sick in over 30 years. Fast food restaurants throw out huge amounts of food at close and are prohibited from allowing people to getting it even out of the dumpster. People who want to feed the homeless are routinely fined, punished or prevented from doing so because they don’t have permits and licenses that prove they prepare food in a permitted and licensed kitchen.

It could be readily argued that a vast amount of our food is garbage anyway, and therefore going where it should go, but truly not having enough to eat is about to become a reality for a larger percentage of our population than in anytime in recent memory.

There is a massive drought in California, there are 25% of greenhouses that heat with propane that have either shut down or significantly scaled back, the vast majority of chicken houses heat with propane and most of those growers finished what they had and held off on losing everything due to either being unable to afford or in some cases even acquire the propane to heat with. Brazil, the highest global producer of beef and a major exporter of food in many categories is in a drought where rationing of water is occurring in 142 cities. And don’t forget that South Dakota lost around 100,000 cattle and we have cattle populations in the US at 1951 levels.

While we’re throwing all of this away, or being forced to throw it away, we’re looking at massive rises in food costs. Time to learn how to preserve whatever excess we have.

Here’s an article about the USDA wastage report:

Americans trash about 1/3 of their food, worth $161bn – USDA

Published time: February 25, 2014 08:56

AFP Photo / Spencer PlattAFP Photo / Spencer Platt

About 30 percent of the 430 billion pounds of food produced in the United States is wasted, an incredible statistic, especially given the lack of landfill space, not to mention the global menace of world hunger.

The shocking statistic gives a new meaning to the term ‘junk food,’ as Americans are sending 133 billion lbs (60 billion kg) of food to the garbage dump each year. To put it another way, 141 trillion calories annually – or 1,249 calories per capita daily – went uneaten in the United States, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture.

The top three food groups in terms of the amount of total food loss cost are ranked as follows: meat, poultry, and fish (30 percent); vegetables (19 percent); and dairy products (17 percent). Retail food waste, for example, in grocery stores and restaurants, accounted for 10 percent (43 billion lbs), while consumer losses amounted to 21 percent (90 billion pounds) of the available food supply.

The issue of food loss is becoming a serious topic not just in the United States, but across the world as countries struggle with mounting levels of garbage, while food scarcity among an exploding world population demands a new way of thinking about eating habits.

In 2010, the average American spent $4,016 on food (both for at-home and away-from-home consumption) out of an average disposable income of $36,016, the report, titled ‘The Estimated Amount, Value and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States’, noted.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of US adults (35.7 percent) are obese, which is perhaps the best argument that Americans can offset a large part of the food waste problem by simply eating less. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the US was $147 billion in 2008; the costs of providing medical assistance for individuals who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, thereby placing an enormous strain on healthcare costs.

At the same time, the problem of global food scarcity is gaining the attention of world leaders.

“The United Nations predicts that the world population will reach 9.3 billion by 2050, and this will require a 70 percent increase in food production, net of crops used for biofuels. Currently…the number of food-insecure people reached 802 million in 2012,” the report stated.

The USDA warned that developed countries like the United States – where 49 million people lived in food-insecure households out of a total population of over 305 million – should not take their current level of food security for granted.

“Although most of this population growth will occur in developing countries, developed countries like the United States also face issues of hunger and food insecurity,” it said.

In an effort to attract attention to the problem of food waste, the USDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year kicked off the US Food Waste Challenge. The United Nations’ Environment Program’s (UNEP) World Environment Day’s central theme was also food waste.

 

AFP Photo / Spencer PlattAFP Photo / Spencer Platt

The report acknowledged that tackling the problem is no easy challenge given the many diverse places where food is distributed, consumed and disposed of.

There are an estimated 119 million households, over a half a million dining establishments, including fast-food outlets, and numerous other locations where people gather to eat, such as schools, institutions, and prisons across the United States, it said.

Eco-hazardous habits

A largely ignored problem associated with our intensely urbanized lifestyles is how to get rid of our food waste in a way that does not inflict long-term damage on the environment. Discarding uneaten food into plastic garbage bags and burying them in landfills only exacerbates the problem.

According to statistics by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste accounted for 34 million tons of some 250 million tons of municipal solid waste in the United States in 2010, with a price tag of about $1.3 billion.

After recycling a number of materials, like metals, plastic and paper, food waste came out on top in terms of what is overloading our garbage dumps, with 21 percent of the total, according to the EPA.

The most worrying problem with landfilling food waste is that it generates methane gas as it decomposes anaerobically. Methane is 21 times more powerful in accelerating global warming than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA as cited in the USDA report.

Landfills account for 34 percent of all human-related methane emissions in the United States
The report pointed to a growing human footprint on the planet as a good reason for nations to start addressing this issue.

The report offered some suggestions on addressing the issue, including expanding on community composting programs, of which there are around 3,510 such initiatives in the US that allow neighborhood residents to leave food scraps and yard trimmings at the curb for a special collection.

At the same time, companies will work to offset food waste if “it is economically justifiable, that is, if the benefits outweigh the costs.”

The report suggested the potential advantages of building “consumer goodwill” for business, using by way of example “a sandwich shop donates uneaten yet wholesome food to a community feeding organization at the end of each day.”

 

 

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