By Daniel Barker
France has made a strong commitment towards fighting hunger by becoming the world’s first country to ban supermarkets from wasting food.
The French senate voted unanimously in support of a new law which forbids throwing away food nearing its “best-before” date, so that it can instead be donated to charities and food banks dedicated to feeding those in need.
The law, which was passed on February 3, 2016, is the result of a grassroots campaign initiated by concerned citizens and activists who started a petition calling for an end to food waste.
Until now, many supermarkets in France routinely destroyed quality food, sometimes deliberately making it inedible for foragers.
From The Guardian:
Supermarkets will also be barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins. In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves. People have been finding edible products thrown out just as their best-before dates approached.
Some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach, reportedly to prevent food poisoning from items taken from bins. Other supermarkets deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks.
Supermarkets found in violation of the new law will be subject to penalties – if they don’t sign donation contracts with food banks and charities, they will face fines of up to $4,200.
Food banks in France will now be able to serve millions more meals to those who cannot afford to buy all the food they need. Supporters of the new legislation are hoping that the rest of the European Union will adopt similar measures to fight food waste throughout the continent.
Food waste facts
Food waste statistics are truly shocking – around 40 percent of all food in the United States goes to waste, while as many as 50 million Americans live in food-insecure households.
Global food waste adds up to 1.3 billion tons per year – that’s approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption. Reducing food waste by 20 percent could feed the nearly 800 million undernourished people throughout the world.
The amount of food wasted in developed countries is much higher than in those considered underdeveloped: The average European or North American wastes 15 times more food than an average African consumer, and the amount of food waste in affluent countries is roughly equivalent to all the food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa.
No need for GMOs
One of the traditional arguments in favor of GMO agriculture is that their poisonous Frankenfood products and methods are necessary for feeding the millions of hungry people across the globe.
Not only have GMOs failed to live up to the promises made Monsanto and other bio-tech corporations, they have also been proven to be harmful to human health. Glyphosate, the world’s most-widely used herbicide and an essential component of GMO agriculture, has been shown to cause cancer, and GMO farming has actually created more economic hardship in many of the countries where it is practiced.
In India, farmers who were persuaded to participate in by Monsanto-sponsored GMO agriculture soon found themselves unable to buy the expensive seeds and other components involved in the scheme, leading to more than 250,000 suicides.
The answer to feeding the world’s hungry is far simpler – all that is required is a conscious effort on the part of individuals and governments in reducing food waste.
As individuals, we can contribute to solving world hunger by becoming aware of how much food we throw away on a daily basis and taking steps to avoid needless waste. By incorporating a few simple measures such as improving food storage to prevent spoilage and planning shopping trips and meal preparation more carefully, food waste at home can be significantly reduced.
TLB finds other articles of interest in The Guardian