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'Stop wasting food', urges Brown

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Britons must stop wasting food in an effort to help combat rising living costs, Gordon Brown has said as he travelled to the G8 summit in Japan.


The PM said "unnecessary" purchases were contributing to price rises, and urged people to plan meals in advance and store food properly.


A government study found the UK wastes 4m tonnes of food every year, adding £420 to a family's shopping bills.


Rising prices and the world economy are due to dominate the annual G8 summit.


The Cabinet Office report, due to be published later, claims that up to 40% of food harvested in developing countries can be lost before it is consumed, due to the inadequacies of processing, storage and transport.




The food policy study also says the average UK household throws away £8 of leftovers a week, yet spends 9% of its income on food.


But there is a significant gap between the poorest tenth of the population, who spend 15% and the wealthiest, who pay out 7%.


Those on lower incomes also spend proportionally more on basics such as milk, eggs and bread - foods that have seen the biggest price rises in recent months.


According to the 10-month study, British families are throwing away a total of 4.1m tonnes of perfectly good food every year, costing each around £420 annually.


It also concludes more research is needed into whether the production of biofuels will cause food prices to increase further.


Speaking to reporters, Gordon Brown said the G8 needed to agree a "global plan" to tackle the issue.


"That's why I am proposing that we take action to both increase the global supply of food and reduce unnecessary demand," he said.


Climate change


"We will be discussing at the G8 how we can help Africa realise its great potential as a food producer and we would like to see production of key food stuffs in Africa double over the next 5-10 years."


But he added: "If we are to get food prices down, we must also do more to deal with unnecessary demand such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain about £8 per week."


Food will feature highly on a G8 agenda of issues including global economic turbulence, record oil prices, climate change and international aid.


African leaders will join talks with G8 counterparts amid efforts to get previous G8 pledges to double aid by 2050 - notably to Africa - back on track.


UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: "What we are trying to get across is there is this complex relationship between what we buy, the amount, waste, the impact on climate change and the impact on our health."


Friends of the Earth food campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said tackling food waste was important, but only part of the solution. She called instead for changes to policies on biofuels and international trade.


She said there was "more and more evidence" that biofuels were bad for the environment, worsening climate change and leading to deforestation.



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