ABERFELDY, Scotland, August 12, 2004 (ENS):
Your lunch could be killing the planet, says WWF Scotland.
On a new website, the organization demonstrates that
many everyday items eaten in an ordinary office lunch
are implicated in environmental destruction on a global
The new website is titled, "Is your lunch killing
the planet?" and it features authors who are contributing
to WWF Food Debates at the Edinburgh Book Festival on
Using two popular British sandwiches - the tuna mayonnaise
and the bacon, lettuce and tomato - and a can of fizzy
juice the WWF Scotland website shows the hidden consequences
that the production of some everyday foods can have
on the environment.
Bread, for instance, used as a staple food across the
world, damages the planet in many ways, according to
the environmental organization. "Some of the worst
environmental impacts of wheat come from the fact that
it demands a lot of water. Wheat is the second most
irrigated crop globally. Irrigation can lead to salinisation,
erosion and the pollution of the water that people and
nature depend on."
"Wheat farming is also a big user of pesticides
- herbicides, soil fumigants, insecticides and fungicides
- whilst quantities per hectare are not larger by comparison
to other crops," the group says. "As there
is so much land growing wheat large quantities of chemicals
are used and get into the environment."
Most people never consider these impacts while munching
their luncheon sandwich, but WWF Scotland says keep
these thoughts in mind for the sake of the planet.
Mass-produced bread often contains fat made from palm
oil. Demand for this versatile oil is a major cause
of virgin rainforest clearance in southeast Asia, driving
the orangutan closer to extinction.
European support for growing sugar beets in Europe
is bankrupting poor sugar cane farmers across the world
and exhausting vital water supplies in dry countries.
Most mayonnaise is made with soya oil grown in vast
plantations, destroying the habitats of endangered species
such as the jaguar and toucan in South America.
EU subsidies are supporting a system of tuna aquaculture
which involves the capture of wild bluefin tuna and
fattening them in cages - driving the species towards
The vast amount of water used to irrigate salad crops
in Spain is causing an environmental disaster and forcing
already struggling species like the Iberian lynx towards
a losing battle for survival.
Wheat grown in the UK is used to feed animals to supply
cheap meat, while most of the country's breadmaking
wheat is imported.
One featured author, Felicity Lawrence, penned the book
"Not on the Label: What really goes into the food
She writes, "Corn, sugar, soya, palm and rapeseed
happen to be among the most heavily subsidized crops
in the world. Fresh fruit and vegetables, on the other
hand, are not subsidized. The former, when processed,
are blessed with a long shelf life but are high in calories
and low in nutrients; the latter are high in vitamins
and minerals but have a tiresome habit of going off.
Straightforward economics dictate what goes into the
processed food we eat today."
Elsewhere on the new site WWF points out that meat
farming for bacon produces massive amounts of waste
that is polluting rivers, estuaries and oceans. "In
the UK we eat something like 900 million animals every
year," the organization states. "Amongst those
are the eight million pigs kept in this country."
Feeding animals is taking land and water away from human
food, the organization warns. "The EU imports 70
percent of the high quality protein it uses in animal
feed, some from countries such as Brazil, Indonesia
and Senegal where there is widespread poverty. Two thirds
of the world's agricultural land is used for feeding
animals. Even in the UK more than 75 percent of agricultural
land is devoted to livestock."
"Consumers have the power to make a difference
in a very significant way," says WWF Scotland.
Every household spends hundreds of dollars every month
on food, so food choices are economically powerful.
"Thinking about where food and its ingredients
come from, and how they are produced, may help us to
choose more sustainable foods."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All