Current food consumption levels are unsustainable, academic says

Professor Tim Benton from the faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds has warned that families in the UK need to cut the amount they eat by a third.

Professor Benton, a government advisor and also the head of the Global Food Security networking group, believes that the wars of the future will be fought over water and access to land for crops in order to feed growing populations as reported by the UK Daily Telegraph.

Professor Benton said that government initiatives to produce greater food quantities through the likes of GM technology are no longer enough, and governments instead need to work on the ‘demand’ for food.

"Food is going to be the fundamental issue of the next half century. We are in a situation where demand globally is going to outstrip supply and while the richer nations will be able to pay the higher prices for food, the poorer ones will not.

"Wars and conflict over oil are largely a thing of the past, in the future we will see wars over access to water or land for food," said Benton.

Benton added that the current focus on food security in the UK has been heavily weighted towards the supply side, but as time progresses, it will be increasingly more difficult to meet demand.

"It makes no sense for us to continue to buy a lot… and over-eat. If we carry on getting more obese we will be spending billions more on cardio-vascular disease and over-consumptive diseases and there isn't going to be enough food to go round.

"We have to do something about changing the way we eat."

Benton says that ideally calorie intake should be cut by one-third with supermarkets reducing packaging sizes and eliminating two-for-one offers, while restaurants should look to cut portion sizes. He also suggests that the cut in consumption should be coupled with a stronger emphasis on food wastage – Benton estimates that households throw out 5kg of food on average each week.

In a report which is due for release in the coming weeks, Global Food Security has stated that as the global population continues to rise from 7b to 9.3b by 2050, total demand for food will have increased by 50 to 70 percent.


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