Pope Francis speaks against world hunger

The Pope said:

“Statistics on waste are very concerning: a third of food products end up under this heading,” the Pope told members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in a June 11 audience.

“It is unsettling to know that a good portion of agricultural products end up used for other purposes, maybe good, but that are not immediate needs of the hungry,” he said.

Francis’ comments were addressed to participants of the organization’s annual conference, being held in Rome June 6-13. [Source]

I find it interesting that the Pope did not merely make a moral statement, that we should care for the hungry. He seems to understand some of the practical causes of world hunger:

1. Agricultural products used for other purposes — Corn and sugar cane grown for biofuel use vast agricultural resources, which could be used for food. Corn and soy grown for livestock feed present much the same problem. Although the livestock are used for human food, almost all the carbs grown and consumed by the livestock are not recovered.

2. Food waste — The Pope says about one third of food products are wasted. That is a conservative estimate. A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, estimates that 40% of the food available in the U.S. is wasted ($165 billion worth of food) [PDF file] The Institute of Mechanical Engineers, estimates that 30 to 50% of all food produced worldwide is wasted [Source].

I’ll be happy if the Pope’s upcoming encyclical on human ecology devotes a good portion of the text to world hunger.


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