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Waste not, want not

While campaigning groups continue to call for reduction in consumption of meat and livestock products, more recently the elimination of ‘ food waste’ appears to be rising up their agenda including a role for pigs to revert to their historical role in eating up our food ‘leftovers’.

The debate about food security, in a world where population growth and increasing affluence is set to rise dramatically in the next decades, has been prominent on the political agenda in recent years. Campaigning groups have tried to ensure that a reduction in consumption of meat and livestock products is a vital part of the solution. More recently, other policy areas, such as the adoption of new technologies, for example GM, and the need to reduce the very high levels of ‘food waste’ in developed countries has started to receive more prominent recognition. 

A recent report published by the House of Commons International Development Committee, 'Global Food Security', called for more action to be taken to address high levels of ‘food waste’ as well as highlighting the case for moving towards more sustainable agricultural production systems. As indicated by recent coverage in the Daily Mail, most media attention concerned the recommendation to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products.

A number of campaigning groups are now seeking to give more prominence to the benefits of eliminating unnecessary ‘food waste’. This includes pigs returning to their more traditional role in society in taking care of food scraps from our tables and eating up ‘left over’ food.

Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association, recently called for an ‘adult’ discussion’ on the question of reintroducing Meat & Bone Meal into pig and poultry feeds.

This traditional feeding practice for pigs and poultry was banned as part of the control measures introduced in the early days of the BSE crisis – not because of evidence of any disease risk for pigs and chickens but to prevent any possibility of ‘cross contamination’ with feed for cattle where a risk had been identified.

The EU recently gave approval ‘in principle’ to reintroduction of MBM to pig and poultry feed, providing the necessary production controls are observed and no ‘species to species’ feeding takes place. Understandably, there is much reluctance on the part of the industry itself to press ahead with reintroduction of MBM into the EU animal feed chain, due to a possible Daily Mail ‘backlash’ from the media and consumers.

Tristram Stuart, a food writer and founder of the 'Feeding the 5000' campaign, recently launched a new initiative 'The Pig Idea' , calling for action to reintroduce the feeding of the significant quantities of edible foods to pigs which are currently sent to landfill sites.