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Page added on April 29, 2006

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The real cost of a bag of salad

You pay 99p. Africa pays 50 litres of fresh water

To you it is a bag of salad, dropped into the supermarket trolley with the weekly groceries. But to farmers in Kenya starved of the water extracted by large scale agriculture to grow it, it may spell destitution. The world is running out of water and British supermarket shoppers are contributing to global drought, according to environmental pressure groups.

Charities warn that while past conflicts have been over oil, future ones will erupt over water. Jacob Tompkins, the director of Waterwise, which campaigns to reduce water use, says low-level “cold” wars over water are already taking place. “We are mining water that will not be replaced. That can’t go on. Whether we see better management of water depends on the decisions people make now. If we paid for the embedded water in our food it would reduce the amount of water we used.”

The Independent

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