“Globally, the carbon footprint of wasted food exceeds 3 billion tons annually, creating about 7% of greenhouse gas emissions,” says Bethany Shively, vice president of strategic communications for the American Seed Trade Association.
In the United States alone, 133 billion pounds of food are wasted annually, contributing to 18% of total U.S. landfill methane (greenhouse gas) emissions.
“Plant breeding innovations such as new varieties of potatoes and mushrooms that don’t bruise and turn brown could go a long way in significantly reducing food waste,” Shively says. “That new potato alone could eliminate 1.5 billion pounds of wasted potatoes each year.”
Some 20% to 25% of crop yields in the United States are lost to pests, disease or post-harvest losses. That number reportedly is as high as 50% in the developing world. GMOs and other plant breeding innovations are key to reducing those losses and increasing the world’s food supply, Shively says.
“The genetically engineered crops on the market today are really helping produce an abundance of food at an affordable price,” says Dr. Richard Goodman of the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.