According to Dr. Peter Alexander, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences and Scotland's Rural College, globally, consumers eat as much as 10% more food then is necessary to survive at optimal health levels, while as much as 9% of the global Food Supply is thrown away, left to spoil or otherwise wasted as a result of cultivation and production practices. The research team behind these findings believes that reductions in the billions of tons lost from the global food supply could result in a sustainable paradigm for adequately feeding all of planet earth's global citizens.

Overconsumption and Waste: a global problem

Using data collected by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, the researchers found that global food wastage is much higher then was previously believed. They believe that as much as half of all nutritive crops harvested internationally are wasted. This amounts to as much as 2.1 Billion tons of food lost as a result of production inefficiency, overconsumption and consumer waste.

Livestock production was found to be the overall least efficient process tied to food production. The researchers measured losses as high as 78% or 840 million tons of all meat produced. That means that only 22% of all meat produced globally is actually consumed.

Additionally, the researchers found that 1.08 Billion tons of harvested crops are used to produce 240 Million tons of edible animal products including meat, milk and eggs. The researchers go on to suggest that increased demand for these animal product related foods could result in further food insecurity as a result of the unsustainable nature of current production paradigms for these staples.

Among the most detrimental outcomes to increased livestock production, the researchers list water shortages, increased greenhouse gas emissions and losses to global biodiversity as the most threatening to the future survival of human populations.

Finally, the researchers suggest that eating fewer animal products, reducing food wasted and not exceeding individual nutritional needs could be the only way to reverse these trends and return the global food supply to a state of balance.

What will you do to reduce global food insecurity?

This research was compiled by Peter Alexander, Calum Brown, Almut Arneth, John Finnigan, Dominic Moran, and Mark D.A. Rounsevell. Their paper, Losses, inefficiencies and waste in the global food system is available through the research journal known as Agricultural Systems.