Climate friendly food choices: Impossible dream? - The Packer

Climate friendly food choices: Impossible dream?

12/13/2010 06:52:29 AM
Tom Karst

The idea of "climate friendly" food choices has been kicked around for a few years. But even in Europe, where the topic has generated a good amount of attention, there is disagreement about how official guidelines square with the principles of free trade and even-handed commerce.This USDA FAS report talks about the evolution of the discussion in Sweden.

From the report:

Sweden Withdraws Proposal on Climate Friendly Food Choices

The Swedish Government has decided to withdraw the National Food Administration's proposal to the EU on guidelines for climate friendly food choices. The EU Commission found that the recommendations to eat more locally produced food contravene the EU’s principles for the free movement of goods and asked Sweden to revise the guidelines.

The Swedish Government has decided to withdraw the National Food Administration’s (NFA) proposal to the EU on guidelines for climate friendly food choices. According to Inger Andersson, NFA’s Director General, free trade was considered more important than the environment.

NFA would have liked a trial to find out whether the benefits of the guidelines overweigh any possible effects on trade. “There is a big demand for information that can help consumers to make food choices that are good both from a health and an environmental aspect, says Inger Andersson.”

In May 2009, NFA submitted a proposal on guidelines for climate friendly food choices to the EU.

Recommendations included eating locally produced meat, chicken, fruits, vegetables and berries, eating sustainable fish, avoiding bottled water and palm oil, limiting rice consumption as it produces large amounts of methane. The proposal was sent out for reactions from other EU-countries. The EU Commission and Romania found that the guidelines would encourage Swedish consumers to choose locally produced products at the expense of products from other countries, which contravenes the principles of free movement of goods in the EU internal
market.

Subsequently, NFA, in cooperation with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Board of Agriculture, revised the guidelines. For example, the wording “domestically produced” was taken away and instead, the underlying environmental aspects, such as the use of pesticides, the effect on the biodiversity and the importance of the mode of transport, were highlighted. In March 2010, the revised guidelines were submitted to the Swedish Government, which now has decided not to bring the proposal forward to the EU.


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