Monday, March 8, 2010


Whether it is a useful practice with any impact on the environment or a ploy to buy out time, the current thinking in the UK, Australia, Japan and other countries to introduce a provision under the labeling regulations to declare the "carbon load" of each processed food product, remains to be seen. The new policy is supposed to guide the consumer in the isles of supermarkets to products causing lowest pollution during its production and processing. If the consumer has very limited choice vis-à-vis "green" products, it is unlikely that the expected result is achieved.

"Supermarket food in the UK will be labeled to show its carbon footprint, country of origin and animal welfare standards as part of the government's new food strategy for the next 20 years, reports the Telegraph. The voluntary "green" food labels will show how much carbon was produced in the manufacture and transportation of food, according to the article. Companies such as Tesco, PepsiCo and other leading brands already display a "carbon reduction label" on certain products showing the amount of carbon dioxide produced in grams in growing the food, packaging and transportation, reports the Telegraph".

In the absence of reliable and independent verification system to ascertain the claims of carbon reduction by different manufacturers, it may degenerate into a "free for all" situation allowing all and sundry to declare that their products are "green", similar to the health claims made by some of the manufacturers without any scientific data. WTO should frown upon such practices to prevent undue discrimination against imported products which invariably will have more carbon load. Such a system may be difficult to be implemented because of deemed discrimination against small processors who have no means to comply with such compulsory regulation due to cost and logistical constraints and the big players with unlimited resources and muscle will elbow out smaller ones from the market on this score. Instead of resorting to such gimmicks, national governments must sensitize the growers, distributors and retailers regarding the urgency to reduce CO2 emission at their operational levels.


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