Food Flight! The Argument Over Flying Organic Food
The Soil Association, the UK’s leading organic certification body, has proposed withdrawing the 'organic' label from produce flown into the UK from abroad. So the question emerges, should the practice of air-freighting organic food be stopped? The Guardian provides two opposing answers to the question. The NO comes from Claire Melamed, head of trade and corporate policy at charity Action Aid:
The trade of fruit and vegetables from Africa to the UK accounts for only 0.1% of all the UK's emissions. Therefore, banning organic green beans from Kenya or mange tout from Zambia, say, is not going to make much difference to the UK's overall carbon footprint...No one denies that we should all be thinking about the effects on the planet of the emissions caused by aviation, but we shouldn't be looking to the poorest people in the world to save us from climate change.
More on this perspective at SciDev.net. The YES comes by way of Jon Stewart, campaigner for Airport Watch:
The contribution of aviation to global warming is the most alarming. The figure that is often quoted is that it accounts for 2% of emissions worldwide. That figure seems quite low, but because it is a worldwide average and people in poor countries hardly fly, it essentially means the developed world's aviation emissions are proportionately very high.Stewart thinks farmers in the developing world may be getting a sense of false security because the poorest will ultimately feel the effects of climate change most immediately and most acutely. Also, he belongs to the camp facing the conclusion that air-freighting will soon become economically unsustainable as the demand for oil starts to outstrip supply. We at TreeHugger would hope that viable alternative jet fuels or solar powered planes or those using zero-emission fuel cell technology would come into play before it comes to that. Stewart suggests that instead of a ban on organic air freight overnight, there should be a plan over the next 10 to 20 years where developing economies become less dependent on air freight and create more local opportunities. And as we always say around here, it wouldn't hurt if the so-called developed economies created more local opportunities for themselves.
via ::The Guardian