posted on 05 November 2016
from The Conversation
Well-intended efforts to reduce food waste could threaten some birds and animal species, a new paper has warned.
Writing in the journal Animal Conservation, researchers have called for scientists to consider how food efficiency measures may affect animal populations that rely on landfill and other food waste to survive.
The warning comes as developed countries introduce new measures aimed at reducing food waste, such as sending expired food to charities instead of landfill.
The authors wrote in their paper:
Lead author of the paper, Iain Gordon, a professor of terrestrial ecology and James Cook University's Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tropical Environments and Societies, said humans waste about 40% of the food we grow.
For example, birds that eat grain spilled in the harvest during stopovers along their migration routes could go hungry if farmers use more efficient machinery to reduce crop losses.
Bald eagles are also highly reliant on food from landfill in the US, he said. If humans created less landfill, the bald eagles may eat other animals instead.
In Europe, the authors of the paper noted, legislation in the wake of mad cow disease forced farmers to bury or burn dead animals that would normally be left lying in fields.
The researchers wrote:
Consider the consequences
Martine Maron, Associate Professor of Environmental Management at the University of Queensland said the paper raised interesting questions but that humans needed to work harder to reduce their food waste.
Professor Maron, who was not involved in the study, said:
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