Consultations

Environmental labelling: ask for relevant information!

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Context

European citizens are invited to give their opinion on the evolution of food labelling rules.
As part of its "Farm to fork" strategy, the Commission plans to revise certain parts of the EU legislation on food information to consumers * concerning nutrition labelling, best before and use by dates, indication of origin and alcoholic beverages.
Information on the environmental impact of products is not addressed in this consultation, although a major issue. Indeed, the Commission has included in its strategy the principle of providing information on the sustainability of food. In line, the French Climate law of 2021 already sets mandatory environmental labelling.
These initiatives are excellent, but the method used to measure the impact of the products need to encompass all sustainability criteria!
At present, the method planned, (known as “Life cycle analysis” or Product Environmental Footprint) does not correctly take into account the effects of agriculture on biodiversity, nor the impact of pesticides. On the contrary, it promotes intensive agriculture that uses pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

* regulation (EU) 1169/2011

Goals

We must mobilize to ensure the European Commission reconsiders the assessment method: the future environmental labelling must reflect the real impacts of agriculture. It should allow consumers to choose for products using less pesticides and chemical fertilizers and protecting biodiversity, such as products from organic farming or other extensive agriculture (open-air farming, for example).

The commission tests the LCA method to measure the environmental footprint
As part of the Green deal, the commission presents its Farm to fork strategy Here we are
Consultation on food labelling
Project of Regulation on Environmental Claims
Draft regulation on “sustainability” labelling Previous date
Previous date
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What the European Commission is proposing

The European Commission is planning to label the sustainability of food products. To measure the environmental score, the Commission favors the LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) method, a tool that calculates the environmental impacts based on yields, i.e. per kg or per liter of finished product.

LCA gives a significant advantage to the most intensive production methods and measures very poorly the impacts of pesticides on health, soil, air or water quality.

In the end, an environmental labelling based on LCA would encourage production methods using pesticides and chemical fertilizers the most and would penalize extensive productions such as organic farming or open-air rearing whose positive impacts on biodiversity and animal welfare are not accounted for.

What we want

We are proposing to the European Commission the Planet-score method which makes it possible to correct the flaws and biases of the Life Cycle Assessment.

Developed in France by ITAB and its partners, the Planet-score combines an aggregate score and 3 sub-indicators (on pesticides, biodiversity and climate), plus an indicator targeting the method of production of animals.

The score orients towards an agroecological transition scenario and accounts for progress initiatives in total transparency. It is in tune with the goals of the Farm to Fork strategy, especially the target of halving the pesticide use by 2030.

  • We are proposing to the European Commission the Planet-score method which makes it possible to correct the flaws and biases of the Life Cycle Assessment.

    Developed in France by ITAB and its partners, the Planet-score combines an aggregate score and 3 sub-indicators (on pesticides, biodiversity and climate), plus an indicator targeting the method of production of animals.

    The score orients towards an agroecological transition scenario and accounts for progress initiatives in total transparency. It is in tune with the goals of the Farm to Fork strategy, especially the target of halving the pesticide use by 2030.


    The need for a deep ecological transition of our consumption habits and of our modes of production is no longer debated. The sustainability labelling planed in the EU Farm to Fork strategy can act as a powerful lever for this purpose. The labelling should provide reliable, easy-to-understand information and must include the carbon footprint of course but also biodiversity conservation, the balance of the ecosystems (air, water, soil) and animal welfare. To assess these impacts the life cycle analysis method is well suited for industrial processes but it gives a misleading picture of the environmental footprint of food and agriculture products. Indeed, by construction, the LCA is a product based approach and will never cope with the challenges of living ecosystems. Moreover, the LCA is not scientifically neutral. It conveys the insight of a transition oriented towards the intensification of agricultural practices, relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. An environmental labelling favorable or neutral to the intensification of agriculture production would be nonsense. Considering the short deadlines, a sensible and operational labelling relying on a farm to fork LCA, absolutely needs to complement the LCA with external references. It is precisely what the Planet-score has achieved and it is the way public authorities should take (https://youtu.be/Gua-nnackBw). Forged in France by ITAB and its partners, the Planet-score combines an aggregate score and 3 sub-indicators on pesticides, biodiversity and climate, plus an indicator on the method of production for animal based ingredients. Unlike a single aggregate score, it allows for consumers to understand the dimensions of the environmental impact. Many studies show that among other labelling formats, the Planet-score is greatly preferred (http://itab.asso.fr/activites/planet-score.php). The Planet-score orients towards an agroecological transition scenario and accounts for progress initiatives in total transparency. It is in tune with the goals of the Farm to Fork strategy, especially the target of halving the pesticide use by 2030.
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