Green Britain: ‘Supermarkets should label food to let us make better choices’

Green Britain: Dale Vince on Forest Green’s food policy

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This would allow them to take into account factors such as food miles – the emissions from transporting – water usage and rainforest destruction when choosing what to buy. The labels advocated by consultants WPI Economics for environmental charity ClientEarth would aim to steer them towards fruit and vegetables, and away from meat.

Flatulent livestock pump out greenhouse gases and, to supply the soaring global demand for meat, large areas of rainforest have been cleared.

This in turn has reduced the absorption of carbon emissions by trees. Yesterday’s ClientEarth report calls for “labelling and information setting out the different carbon emissions of food products”.

In tune with the Daily Express Green Britain crusade, Client­Earth’s head of public affairs and campaigns, Simon Alcock, said: “Carbon labelling is a no-brainer. People want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment so it’s no surprise that carbon labelling is popular.

“Even some firms are keen to do it. Carbon labelling should be a minimum requirement if people are expected to make choices between the otherwise impenetrable green claims of competing brands and products.

“The Government should bring in a mandatory labelling system that gives people choice and allows them to make proper comparisons.

“We can then start to accurately hold businesses to account for their impact on the planet.”

The Vegetarian Society says a veggie diet generates 2.5 times fewer carbon emissions than meat, and uses 2.5 times less land. It also uses less water, with an 8oz chicken breast taking more than 120 gallons to make – enough to fill a bath six times.

Carbon labels for food will be tested next month at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural His­tory, showing goods with green, amber and red labels. Dr Brian Cook, from Oxford’s Nuffield Dep-artment of Primary Care Health Scie-nces, said assessments would take into account land use and biodiversity loss. It would also list water usage, polluting run-off from agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions.

If just applied to each food type, beef would get a red label, but this does not take into account production methods. British beef has a lower impact than meat from the tropics.

Another option would be a system which would steer people to more sustainable versions.

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