|A waitress cleans up tables, where plenty of food was left over, festival feast in a restaurant in Qingdao on Jan. 19, 2013. (Photo/Xinhua)|
Many support idea, but legal experts say it is unenforceable
A pre-eminent Chinese agricultural scientist has suggested the government criminalize wasting food.
"Our country has such a huge population and the arable land is very small if it is divided for each Chinese individual. … For years we agricultural scientists have been toiling to achieve an increase of 2.5 or 5 kilograms to the harvest of each mu (0.06 hectare) of rice, but after the food was increased, people wasted it," Yuan Longping, the most famous agricultural scientist in China, told China Central Television on Wednesday.
"Now I am proposing that the government make (regulations and policies) to encourage people to despise the waste of food and to treat it like a crime."
Yuan made the remarks after the UN Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization launched on Tuesday a global campaign targeted at consumers, governments and the food industry to help reduce the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted around the world annually.
The goal of the "Think, Eat, Save" program is to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption, according to the program's website.
Yuan is well known for his contribution to the development of China's first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s and since then has been called "the Father of Hybrid Rice" by Chinese media.
As of Thursday, Yuan's advice had been forwarded more than 16,600 times on Sina Weibo, the most popular micro-blogging service in China, and netizens responded by leaving nearly 5,700 comments, most of them supporting the idea.
"Currently, we only regard wasting food as shameful, but if Yuan's suggestion is realized, those who squander food will be criminally punished. I think it is a reasonable method to curb the disgraceful act," wrote a micro-blogger with the user name Wendaotianxia.
Another netizen, ElevenDie, agreed: "I heard that people in foreign countries must wrap up their leftovers in restaurants and this practice should be promoted in China."
Some celebrities also gave Yuan's suggestion a thumb-up, including Chinese actress Yuan Li.
"I am with Yuan (Longping). Now some of us waste food, but just several years ago we suffered from the lack of enough food. Next time I will directly remind those people of this fact if I see them wasting food in restaurants," Yuan Li wrote.
However, some said that instead of criminalizing food waste in restaurants, people should pay more attention to containing some officials' misuse of taxpayers' money on extravagant banquets.
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