26 January 2007, 19:00 PM
  • In new proposals put forward by The Soil Association to reduce carbon emissions, food which is imported to the UK by air may be denied the "organic" label.

The Soil Association is concerned about the damage being done to the environment by greenhouse gas emissions from flights carrying food products around the world. In view of this, it is launching a one-year consultation at its annual conference in Cardiff today on a proposal to ban air-freighting for organic food, in the hope of cutting the carbon dioxide levels blamed for global warming.

Soil Association director, Patrick Holden, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, “There is growing demand to reduce the carbon footprint of food distribution and we in the Soil Association take that very seriously.”

He added, “The board will publish a consultation paper giving the background and outlining the options, which would include labelling and carbon offsetting.

“But this initiative wouldn’t have been taken if there wasn’t a pretty strong chance that the standards board would eventually decide on a total ban.”

Mr Holden said that one of the key issues during the consultation period would be the viability of fair trade schemes, which benefit farmers in the developing world by giving them direct access to rich-world markets for their crops.

But he added, “Overall, the carbon footprint of air-freighting is greater to such a large degree than land transport that we think there is a pretty strong case for looking at a ban very seriously.”