GMOs and Food Waste
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one third of food produced for human consumption globally is lost or wasted. Beyond the environmental implications of wasted food ending up in landfills, consider the waste of water, energy, land and other resources that go into growing the food that isn’t eaten.
Food waste is a serious issue, and one that will take effort from both farmers and consumers to fix.
Why so much waste?
Due in part to our abundant food supply, we, as consumers, have become picky about what we will or won’t eat. According to the FAO, one half of produce grown is wasted due to cosmetic issues, such as bruises or cuts.
Additionally, an estimated 20-25% of crops are lost due to weeds, pests and disease in the U.S. In developing countries, that number is significantly higher.
How can GMOs help?
Some GMOs have allowed farmers to grow crops that are resistant to minor cosmetic issues that make consumers turn them down. For example, farmers can now grow varieties of apples and potatoes that are resistant to browning and bruising – meaning fewer of them will end up in landfills.
Other GMOs have traits that impact food waste on the farm level. These GM varieties protect crops against disease, pests and even extreme weather conditions. These insect and drought resistant crops have had an especially important impact on yields in developing countries where there is limited access to other pest control methods and irrigation options.
When it comes to food waste, we all need to work together to use the tools at our disposal to minimize our impact.