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UN: Food Loss And Waste Is An Issue The Caribbean And Latin America Can Do A Better Job On

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN THE REGION: Nearly half of them go to waste, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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SANTIAGO, Chile – Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean announced their interest in promoting an international code of conduct to serve as a global guideline to prevent and reduce food losses and waste.

FAO has supported countries in the region to create a technical support note for the code, which will be submitted to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) this month.

The note that will be presented to the CFS contains a methodological framework to identify critical points, practices and key actors associated with losses and wastes.

This proposal was debated by parliamentarians, government officials, representatives of the private sector, civil society and the academy of sixteen countries of the region during the III Regional Dialogue on Food Loss and Waste.

“That a great part of the food produced in the world ends up in the garbage, when more than 795 million people are still suffering hunger all over the planet, it is a real crime,” said Julio Berdegué, FAO’s Regional Representantive, during the dialogue.

If accepted by the international community, the proposal will serve as a basis for constructing a non-binding legal instrument – such as that for pesticide use – that will enable countries to meet target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims at at 50 percent cut in per capita food losses and waste by the year 2030.

The Code of Conduct will enable the overall response to be coordinated through a shared vision and strategies involving all actors in the food system.

By identifying the critical points at each stage of the food life cycle, countries will be able to prevent and reduce losses throughout the food chain. By linking local, regional and global strategies, it will serve as a reference to create laws and foster cooperation between the parties involved.

The region strengthens its laws and institutions

Since 2015, several countries in the region have incorporated this theme into their legislative agendas and their institutions.

During the regional dialogue, Chile announced the creation of an intersectoral committee on this subject, adding Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Ecuador, Honduras and Paraguay have already started similar processes.

Currently, there are about 19 bills related to the losses and waste that being debated in the parliaments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

During the regional dialogue, ten members of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean participated in a special training session and defined a joint road map to drive these initiatives.

“Legislation is needed to minimize food loss from a multidimensional and preventive approach, not only linked to punishment,” said Mexican Senator Luisa María Calderón, General Coordinator of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger.

According to the FAO, one of the outstanding challenges is to advance not only in the reduction but also in the prevention of losses and wastage at all stages of the food supply chain.

A problem with multiple repercussions

Food losses and waste have important environmental, economic and social implications, and have great negative impacts the sustainability of food systems.

While in developing countries 40 percent of the losses occur in the post-harvest and processing stages, in industrialized countries more than 40 percent of losses occur in retail and at the consumer level.

According to FAO, about 1.4 billion hectares of land are used each year to produce food that is not consumed, a larger area than that of Canada and India as a whole.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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