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EU: environmental footprint stated on food
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By 2020 at the latest uniform labelling across the whole of Europe will provide information about the environmental impact of food items. The German Bundesverband der grünen Wirtschaft, the German Association of the Green Economy - UnternehmensGrün, and the Assoziation ökologische Lebensmittelhersteller (AöL), (Association of Organic Food Manufacturers), welcome the plans of the European Commission, but they see the need for considerable improvement. “Important criteria like preserving biodiversity and the creation of humus in agriculture are not being taken sufficiently into account,” says Katharina Reuter, managing director of UnternehmensGrün.
Picture: Eosta´s environmental footprint labeling
If labelling is to create transparency the European Commission has to include the environmental benefits of organic production, maintains Alexander Beck. Consumers expect future-oriented statements about the environment. Reuter criticises the fact that the main participants in developing the criteria are big companies and fears that “as a consequence the evaluation is focused on efficiency parameters, which is where big companies are at an advantage. Committed organic farms, that do a great deal in terms of biodiversity and animal welfare but which is something that does not feature in the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), don't get the prominence they deserve.” The discussion with Hugo Schally from the EU Commission Directorate General for Environment and around 70 companies revealed that there are still many issues to be resolved. As the process moves forward Reuter's demand is that: “Small and medium size organic enterprises, with connections to nature and people in the region, must not be disadvantaged.”
Since 2010 the EU has been planning to establish an internal market for green products because differing labelling requirements pertaining to the environment exist in each member state. The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) will create greater transparency for the consumer. The first pilot projects were concluded at the end of 2016 and are currently being evaluated by the EU.
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