WATER FOOTPRINT/Global Drying

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duane
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WATER FOOTPRINT/Global Drying

Post by duane » Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:45 pm

Did anyone see Landline on ABC TV on Sunday 16th August??http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/ ... 657257.htm

It was incredibly timely.

Two of the biggest food corporates in the worls. Nestle and Mars, were on saying they are taking a CSR and CER not to take produce from traditional agricultural areas, which supply them with product, where there is water scarcity. This includes the whole of the MDB.

Here is the transcript. Suggest that if you have not seen the segment ....ITS IS COMPULSIVE VIEWING!!!
THIS IS COPIED FROM THE LANDLINE WEBSITE http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/ ... 657257.htm

ANNE KRUGER, PRESENTER: And keeping with this week's theme, some of the latest research coming out of the CSIRO relates to the science of water footprinting. In south-eastern Australia, farmers would be very aware of just how scarce it's become. But they are not alone. Scores of other regions of the world are also using more water than nature can replenish. The big food companies, like Nestle and Mars, are very concerned that there won't be enough water to grow the foods we have all come to know and love.

PRUE ADAMS: Water, as the cliche goes, is the elixir of life. It's easy to forget when we wheel our trolley past the thousands of foods on the supermarket shelves, that every single one of them has needed water for growing and manufacturing. And that is putting a strain on the world's water supplies.

CLAUS CONZELMANN, NESTLE: There was a lot of discussion over the last few years about global warming, but we believe there is another inconvenient truth and that is global drying, which is really the world water crisis.

SPEAKER: Please welcome Claus Conzelman.

PRUE ADAMS: Claus Conzelmann is no political activist or marginalised greenie. He heads up the health and environment division at the world's biggest food and drink company.

CLAUS CONZELMANN: G'day, ladies and gentlemen.

PRUE ADAMS: He told a food science convention in Brisbane, that Nestle has halved the amount of water it uses in its factories, but the much bigger issue is reducing the water used in growing the raw products.

CLAUS CONZELMANN: India is a country where water is being withdrawn at a frightening rate, where watertables are dropping year after year, where you have to go down already more than a kilometre in many parts of India to get water and we do have a number of factories also in the area, both on the Indian and the Pakistani Punjab. We are very, very worried if the farmers don't get the water any more, they will not be able to produce the raw materials on which we depend on in our factories.

PRUE ADAMS: This is a map devised by a Swiss think tank, showing the areas of the world that are water-stressed and frighteningly, the hot spots are also where most of our food is produced. Great chunks of the western parts of the United States are using more water than is being replenished. Most of the northern Africa and the Mediterranean, much of India and large areas of China are all facing serious water scarcity. In the driest continent on earth, Australia, perhaps the most surprising thing is the large area that is not water stressed, most of the country is OK. But the Murray Darling Basin and parts of south-eastern Queensland are feeling the pressure of water overuse.

Dr Brad Ridoutt heads up a CSIRO team which is relying on this groundbreaking map.

BRAD RIDOUT, CSIRO: I guess the overall point to make is that water scarcity is not an isolated or small issue, it's covering major parts of the world, some of the major food production bowls of the world, and that is why it's becoming a global issue just like climate change and global warming.

PRUE ADAMS: And with that water scarcity comes a new term - the water footprint.

BRAD RIDOUT: What water footprinting seeks to do is to give some measure of the impact associated with the water that's used to make products and services, the sort of things that we consume every day. That is important because in actual fact most of our burden of the world's water resources doesn't come through the water we use at home for drinking, showering, washing dishes and clothes and so forth, it actually comes through the water used to make all the stuff that we buy and consume every day.

PRUE ADAMS: One group is well out in front on this emerging issue, it's called the Water Footprint Network and it's based in the Netherlands. It's come up with water usage figures for a series of foods and drinks, and claims 1 kilogram of rice takes an astounding 3,400 litres to produce. One kilogram of cheese around 5,000 litres, the glass of wine one might have with that cheese took 120 litres of water, mostly in the growing of the grapes. A cup of coffee requires 140 litres of water. Tea is a little less thirsty, 30 litres for every cup. But this is perhaps the most contentious statistic published by the Water Footprint Network - a kilogram of beef allegedly requires a water input of more than 15,000 litres.

Australian researcher, Brad Ridoutt, harbours grave concerns with the methodology used to calculate these numbers.

BRAD RIDOUT: You have to question those figures that I have seen in the media, ranging from 15 to even 100,000 litres per kilogram of Australian beef. I think it's potential is very high for that information to be misunderstood and to be confusing because if Australian consumers, or dare say consumers in the UK, get the sense that if they avoid eating a kilogram of Australian beef, they'll return 100,000 litres of water to a river system that's in need of extra water resources for its health, I think that's very misleading.

DAVID INALL, CATTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA: Yes, our immediate thought is that we are concerned at those figures coming up as you just indicated.

PRUE ADAMS: The Cattle Council's David Inall maintains most Australian beef is grown out in the range lands where the cattle feed on vegetation, surviving on rainfall alone, not on irrigated pasture.

DAVID INALL: Those types of figures assume that all of the rain fall that falls onto cattle properties, are consumed by the cattle to produce the product. That's clearly not the case. The figures that we have seen indicate 18 to 540 litres of water are used to produce a kilo of beef.

PRUE ADAMS: The CSIRO agrees with the beef industry, that where the water comes from does make a difference. Brad Ridoutt is helping to put together a revised water footprinting methodology that looks at impact of water use rather than volume. Not all water is created equal. He says there are three types of water - green water is the rainwater that hydrates food crops.

Blue water comes from surface or underground resources. It's the rivers and reservoirs on which the irrigated regions rely and there is the more esoteric grey water, which could be called diluted water, it's the amount needed to dilute waste water from industry and crops.

BRAD RIDOUT: One of the questions we ask is "in the absence of production, to what extent would that water be available for the environment?" or, "to what extent would that water be available for other users?"

PRUE ADAMS: It's very complicated, isn't it?

CLAUS CONZELMANN: Well, it is, yeah, but that's part of the fun as well because if it would be easy, you know, you had a less interesting job.

PRUE ADAMS: With a PhD in molecular biology, what Dr Conzelmann might describe as interesting, others find hard to digest.
Nestle is taking the subject very seriously, though. The company makes many of the brands we all know. Globally it has hundreds of factories, including several in Australia. Those factories rely on 600,000 farmers worldwide and many of those farmers are advised by Nestle's thousands of agricultural consultants, who are increasingly teaching water-saving methods to their growers.

CLAUS CONZELMANN: We have realised over the last 10 years or so that for farming it takes an average - again globally - of about 3,000 litres of water to produce every single kilogram of raw material we depend on. And that is why we have now trained over the last few years the agricultural advisors that are working on our behalf with the farming communities in many countries.

PRUE ADAMS: Nestle doesn't have a mortgage on water-saving ideas though. One of their main competitors, the Mars Food Company, is also coming to terms with sourcing product from less water-stressed regions.

ROGER BEKTASH, MARS AUSTRALIA: I'd like to make it very simple and that is it's not the total volume of water that may be involved in production, but it's the impact of that water locally that's really important.

PRUE ADAMS: This is Wodonga in Victoria. The biggest single private employer in town is the Mars company. It's here they manufacture most of their pet foods. Well-known names such as Whiskers and Smackos and Pedigree. In fact, this is the biggest cannery in the southern hemisphere. It's fitting that this company, now grappling with the implications of water use, sits beside the River Murray. The huge but only 17 per cent full Hume Dam is a short drive up the road - a symbol of how stretched for water this region really is. Rethinking the use of this precious resource has fallen to Dr Roger Bektash.

ROGER BEKTASH: We started with our factory and by understanding our water use and doing this sort of detailed mapping, we've been able to reduce our water use on this site by 38 per cent over the last two years and then that led us to thinking about water use across the whole life cycle of our products.

PRUE ADAMS: He says the water used in the factory is a drop in the ocean compared to the water needed to grow the raw products before they arrive at the factory door.

ROGER BEKTASH: And I think that's one of the big revelations, the big, "Ah". Out of this study, we thought we knew our supply chain very well and our products. But when we really look at the data and look at where the products are grown, how they are grown, then we start to realise the big impact in water use is outside our factory, not passing the blame in any way, but just recognising that our farmers and suppliers are more vulnerable than ourselves to water shortages.

PRUE ADAMS: To improve the current water footprinting methods, Brad Ridoutt has taken a long hard look at two very different Mars products - peanut M&Ms and Dolmio pasta sauce. M&Ms contain peanuts and cocoa and sugar.

BRAD RIDOUT: When we calculated all the water that's used across the whole supply chain to produce a large 250g bag of peanut M&Ms, it was over 1,000 litres, a huge volume, but most of that water was involved in the growing of the cocoa in West Africa. Those cocoa trees are growing under natural rain fall, and to our knowledge there's no water scarcity issues in those locations. So when we recalculated the water footprint using the water stress indexes and so forth, rather than talking about a water footprint of 1,153 litres, it became a water footprint of 31 litres.

PRUE ADAMS: The pasta sauce contains mostly tomatoes and onions and herbs, all of these ingredients are grown under irrigation, often in hot, dry regions, which are experiencing pressure on water resources.

BRAD RIDOUT: The volume of water used to produce a jar of Dolmio pasta sauce was something like a sixth of the water used to produce the peanut M&Ms, but in actual fact the impact of that water use was higher in the case of Dolmio pasta sauce than it was for the peanut M&Ms.

ROGER BEKTASH: Yes, that was very revealing. Here we see the local water impact. Greater for something like tomatoes versus cocoa. That's helping us understand this issue.

PRUE ADAMS: Far from scaring off the man from Mars, the CSIRO's calculations have prompted the company to assess some of its other products. Mars is the world's biggest manufacturer of pet food. Information just released is an audit of the embedded water in two signature brands - Pedigree dry dog food and Whiskers cat food.

ROGER BEKTASH: This is very complex. In fact, the CSIRO folks were horrified when they looked at the recipe complexity of our products, because we use components coming from so many different sources, so grains, meats and whether it's red meat or white meat or whatever, but they are almost all byproducts of the main industries for human food.

BRAD RIDOUT: The numbers are quite large, but in actual fact more than 85 per cent of the water used is so-called green water, natural rain fall that fell over these agricultural lands, the use of which is not limiting the availability of water for the environment or other users.

PRUE ADAMS: So, when you look at say 20kg of Pedigree dog food, it looks astronomical. 17,000 litres or more than 17,000 litres of water. But you are saying more like 13 litres, when you take into account the green and blue water.

BRAD RIDOUT: It's something like that, hence the reason why it's so important with water footprinting to be talking about the impacts, and not just the volumes - talking about the volumes can be very misleading.

PRUE ADAMS: Now, if you think this is going way too far, that it's too academic and that consumers don't care anyway, then the opinion of the Trade Commissioner based in London might change your mind. Last year, I was in the UK to report on carbon footprinting, a science of measuring the embedded carbon in food production, depending on how it was produced and how far it's travelled to get to the end user. Austrade now says water footprinting is the next big trend and Australian producers should be aware of it.

KYLIE HARGREAVES, AUSTRADE: More and more people are getting worried about water because you get headlines like, "The next wars are going to be about water" and, you know, the water is the new carbon, and all this sort of stuff, so they are conscious of it.

PRUE ADAMS: In British supermarkets, little footprints are already appearing on labels, denoting the carbon footprint. There are plans for similar labels denoting water usage. Ms Hargrave says while Austrade is preparing for the threats and the opportunities this represents, there is a risk that consumers will become completely bamboozled.

KYLIE HARGREAVES: Yeah, the bamboozling factor is alive and well and interestingly what we are seeing is this trend called choice editing, so the consumers are, sort of, throwing their hands up in the air, saying, "I can look at a Fair Trade label, I can look at the recycling label, I can look at the carbon footprint, I can look at the water fingerprint, organic ... everything, it's too complicated. I want to trust you, Mr Marks and Spencers, to meet your standards that you have said you will, in terms of ethics, in terms of sustainability and green, and I will know when I walk into your store, because your brand is real, that everything on that shelf meets your ethical green standards."

PRUE ADAMS: Which all means if Australian producers don't have a green story, then they'll be locked out of the supply chains.

The concern for agriculture in all of this is whether big food companies like Nestle and Mars will start to change their buying habits to move to where the water is more plentiful.

CLAUS CONZELMANN: Absolutely, that's something we see already happening, just the example of southern Spain where we also happen to have a tomato processing factory. I believe that in a few years from now, there will not be significant tomato production locally in the area, so we will probably have to then move our production facility somewhere else.

PRUE ADAMS: While the rain apparently is not falling on the plains in Spain, the same can be said for the catchment of the Murray Darling Basin. And companies effectively boycotting the produce from Australia's own food bowl could be yet another cross for the region to bear.
Last edited by duane on Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

brettmtl
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Post by brettmtl » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:46 pm

Very interesting,

Thanks for the info Duane

novaris
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Post by novaris » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:25 pm

+1
Everything in moderation, including moderation.

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