Monday, August 22, 2022

Food Dumped in Landfill while Millions go Hungry

 Ominous warnings keep coming non-stop: some of the world’s developing nations are heading towards mass hunger. 

The World Food Programme (WFP) warned last week that as many as 828 million people go to bed hungry every night while the number of those facing acute food insecurity has soared — from 135 million to 345 million — since 2019. A total of 50 million people in 45 countries are teetering on the edge of famineThe WFP says it requires $22.2 billion to reach 152 million people in 2022. However, with the global economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the gap between needs and funding is bigger than ever before.

What seems like a cruel paradox is that the US Department of Agriculture estimates that a staggering $161 billion worth of food is dumped yearly into landfills in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said last November food waste in the United States is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply.

“Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents nourishment that could have helped feed families in need. Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes’, said the FDA.

Professor Dr David McCoy, Research Lead at United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), described the heartbreaking image of food being dumped in landfills while famine and food insecurity grows, must also be juxtaposed with the ecological harms caused by the dominant modes of food production which in turn will only further deepen the crisis of widespread food insecurity.

“The need for radical and wholesale transformation to the way we produce, distribute and consume food has been recognized for years. However, powerful actors – most notably private financial institutions and the giant oligopolist corporations who make vast profits from the agriculture and food sectors – have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Their resistance to change must be overcome if we are to avoid a further worsening of the hunger and ecological crises." 

Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute, stated that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global food production and stocks are at historic high levels in 2022, with only a slight contraction compared to 2021.

“Skyrocketing food prices seen this year are rather due to speculation and profiteering than the war in Ukraine. It is outrageous that WFP has been forced to expand its food relief operations around the world due to speculation, while also having to raise more funds as the costs of providing food relief has increased everywhere”, he said.

Mousseau pointed out that WFP’s costs increased by $136 million in West Africa alone due to high food and fuel prices, whereas at the same time, the largest food corporations announced record profits totaling billions. Louis Dreyfus and Bunge Ltd had respectively 82.5% and 15% jump in profits so far this year. Cargill had a 23% jump in its revenue. Profits of a handful of food corporations that dominate the global markets already exceed $10 billion this year – the equivalent of half of the $22 billion that WFP is seeking to address the food needs of 345 million people in 82 countries.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that it is important that all governments and the private sector cooperate to bring them to market. Without fertilizer in 2022, he said, there may not be enough food in 2023.

Getting more food and fertilizer out of Ukraine and Russia is critical to further calm commodity markets and lower prices for consumers

Danielle Nierenberg, President and Founder, Food Tank said the amount of food that is wasted in the world is a huge environmental problem–if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’ve done a good job over the last decade of creating awareness around food waste, but we haven’t done enough to actually convince policymakers to take concrete action...” 

Millions Go Hungry-- While Billions Worth of Food Go into Landfills | Inter Press Service (

The SOYMB blog does not hold any confidence that governments will place people's priorities before business profits.

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