Washington, May 20 : A new report by the Stockholm International Water Institute has determined that the wastage of food means wastage of a large amount of water.
According to a report in Discovery News, given that crop production uses about 1,800 trillion gallons (1,700 cubic miles) of water a year, almost 40 percent of which comes from irrigation rather than rainwater, that loss represents a lot of water.
The report says that in the United States itself, up to 30 percent of food is tossed out each year, worth about 48.8 billion US dollars, which is equivalent to flushing 10 trillion gallons of water down the drain.
"There's a very low awareness about the size of these figures," said report lead author Jan Lundqvist. "I think most people don't realize that the loss and the wastage is at that level," he added.
The report shows that these losses together make up more than half of the total. The remaining losses come from crops grown for animal feed that don't end up as calories in animals because of animals' inefficiencies in converting food into body mass.
"About 1.2 to 1.4 billion people are living in areas where all of the water is committed," said Lundqvist. "There is simply no more water to take. So if people want to have more water, they either have to take it from someone else, or we have to make more efficient use of it," he added.
According to Meena Palaniappan, an international water specialist at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, "When we're talking about ways to reduce or conserve water, obviously agriculture has to be the place where attention is paid," she said.
"This issue of efficiency of agricultural production is incredibly central to any environmental outcome over the next century, not just water," said Marshall Burke of the Program on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University.
"Wastage is one clear, clear inefficiency where, if you could reduce it, it would have really useful effects for water, for nitrogen use, and for land use," he added.
In areas like Africa and many parts of Asia where upstream wastage dominates, waste could be reduced through better harvesting technology, storage and transport, according to Lundqvist.
Reducing meat consumption, and overeating in general, could also contribute in reducing the amount of food wastage, he added.
"It's not possible to reduce wastage and losses altogether, but we think a realistic target is to reduce losses and wastage by 50 percent by 2025," said Lundqvist.