A new report calculates that up to half of the food produced in the world never makes it to any dinner table, and finds that enormous amounts of water are being squandered in the process. Another report tried to calculate the amount of water to be used by those now grabbing land in poor countries to produce food and fuel for the export market.
In a recent report of the UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers it is calculated that between 30-50% of the food produced in the world never makes it to a plate because supermarkets don't find it meets their criteria, or consumers throw it away. According to the same report this implies that about 550 billion m3 of water is wasted globally every year in growing crops that never make it to the consumer. They also calculate that, if the current trends continue, the demand for water in food production could reach 10-13 trillion m3 per year by 2050 – which is 2.5 to 3.5 times higher than the total human use of fresh water today.
GRAIN and others have been insisting that land grabbing need also to be understood as water grabs. Now, a recent study published by the US National Academy of Sciences and based on the GRAIN 2012 data set and the Land Matrix Database estimates that global land grabbing is associated with the grabbing of 308 billion m3 of green water (i.e. rain water) and an additional grabbing of blue water (irrigation water from lakes and rivers) of up to 146 billion m3 per year, if all the grabbed land is to be irrigated. Here is a commentary by someone who gives more figures.
550 billion m3 of water wasted to produce food that never makes it to anyone's table, and up to 454 billion m3 of water stolen from poor people to produce crops for the export market. This is two sides of the same coin. Behind this is the ever expanding industrial food system with its insatiable thirst for water and its continuous drive to move food around the world, leaving a billion people every day without enough to eat or to drink. Implemented by a small group of corporate profiteers making billions of dollars in the process.