Mandatory environmental labels would cut foods toll on earth
Joseph Poore of Oxford University will follow on from his paper Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers and discuss the subject matter Mandatory Environmental Labelling.
Two foods that look the same in the shops can have dramatically different impacts on the environment. Today, we have no way of telling them apart. Food producers themselves generally don’t know their own emissions, their impact on water scarcity, or their impact on biodiversity. This is a dire situation in the face of global warming, water shortages, and widespread biodiversity loss.
From data on 40,000 farms and 1,600 food processors and retailers in 120 countries, I will present evidence for why producers should monitor and manage their own environmental impacts using new digital tools. These impacts should then be communicated to consumers, creating transparency and accountability throughout the supply-chain. Presenting this information as labels would give consumers control over their personal footprint. It would also create the information for more targeted policy such linking taxes and subsides to actual environmental harm. More broadly, I will look at how mandatory environmental labels have transformed other sectors of the economy, including household appliances in the EU and USA, and show why they could also transform food.