Speaking at EAT Stockholm Food Forum

EU commissioner finds food waste repulsive

Published April 21, 2016

Colored by his childhood in harsh conditions in a Soviet Siberian work camp, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis sees food waste as “the most repulsive side of consumerism”.

Andriukaitis is one of the speakers at the third EAT Stockholm Food Forum (13-14th of June). The forum brings together some of the world’s brightest people in the fields of science, politics, business and civil society to shift food systems towards greater sustainability, health, security, and equity within the boundaries of our planet.

«It is essential that we strengthen food sustainability» Vytenis Andriukaitis

“Why is it important to direct the world’s attention to sustainable food production?”

“We need to strengthen the sustainability of our food systems in order to face the important food security challenges which lie ahead of us. We need to ensure – despite limited natural resources and the impact of climate change – that the nearly ten billion people the UN forecasts will be living on this planet in 2050, all have access to a sufficient supply of safe, nutritious food. In this context, there is no room for food waste. Food waste consumes about one quarter of all water used in agriculture worldwide, it requires cropland area the size of China, and generates about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is essential that we strengthen food sustainability, food security and the nutrition potential of our food systems worldwide, and as a matter of urgency.”

“What role can EAT and EAT Stockholm Food Forum play?”

“Rethinking our food systems requires commitment, creativity and co-operation. EAT Stockholm Food Forum will bring together a wide breadth of experienced actors from the scientific community, government, business and civil society. Such a forum can help foster cross-fertilization of ideas and definition of multi-sectorial approaches needed to find future solutions for healthy and sustainable food systems.”

“How did you personally become interested in these issues?”

“I was born in a Siberian gulag (work camp for deported). In the conditions we lived in, food waste was unimaginable. Food waste was a moral crime. I would not be able to look at my mother’s eyes if I left even a tiny amount of porridge on my plate. Even today, I cannot do anything other than finish my plate. Later, I remember that in the cantinas, the leftovers were always collected when possible for reheating, if not, for animals. There was never such a thing as too much food. An excerpt from a novel written by prominent Lithuanian author, Justinas Marcinkevičius comes to my mind: A child drops a piece of bread on the floor. Father sees it and yells ‘pick it up, quickly, the bread is sacred’. I can absolutely relate to that. For me, food waste is the most repulsive side of consumerism.”

Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis was appointed European commissioner for Health and Food Safety in November 2014. He was born in Siberia in 1951 where his family was deported ten years earlier and hereturned to Lithuania in 1959.

Andriukaitis graduated in medicine andwas a practicing surgeon for more than 20 years. He also holds a degree in history from Vilnius University.

Andriukaitis was one of the founders of the Lithuanian social democrat party. He was elected in 1990 to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania (preceded Seimas, Lithuanian Parliament). Andriukaitis is one of the co-authors of the country’s constitution adopted in 1992. He was a member of Parliament 1992–2004 and Minister of health 2012–2014.