Tuesday, 20 November 2007


The UK Soil Association moves ahead with ban on air freight of organic foods.

The recent announcement by the UK’s Soil Association’s (SA) Standards Board for proposed changes to ban the air freight of organic produce under its standards, is a bold step by the UK’s leading certifier, towards organic food production taking greater responsibility in curbing climate change. The group’s focus on air freight is part of its broader ongoing work to assess and reduce the life cycle impact on the climate of all organic farming and food. (1)At the same time the group recognises the negative effect this may have on the development of organic markets in low or lower-middle income countries currently responsible for 80% of air freighted organic produce to the UK. Air freighted goods will therefore be accepted under SA standards if they meet the SA’s own Ethical Trade standards or the Fairtrade Foundation’s standards.
Meanwhile SA licensees are required to develop plans for reducing any remaining dependence on air freight.The details of the proposal will be open to further consultation during 2008, and will begin to take effect from January 2009.
Although less than 1% of the total UK food miles, air freight is responsible for 11% of the CO2 emissions from UK food transport and can generate 177 times more greenhouse gas than shipping.Anna Bradley, chair of the SA’s Standards Board said:"It is neither sustainable nor responsible to encourage poorer farmers to be reliant on air freight, but we recognise that building alternative markets that offer the same social and economic benefits as organic exports will take time. Therefore, the Soil Association will be doing all it can to encourage farmers in developing countries to create and build organic markets that do not depend on air freight. "We also want the public to have clear and meaningful information about both the environmental and social impact of air freighted organic food. That’s why The Soil Association is working with the Carbon Trust and the British Standards Institute to arrive at a reliable and comprehensive system of assessing the full carbon footprint of all food.
The Standards Board will consider implementing carbon labelling within our standards for all organic goods - not just air freighted produce - when a good scheme is available."

from 'The Organic Advantage' edition 92 http://www.bfa.com.au/


Deborah Cantrill said...

Good start. We need to follow. However I have experienced a couple of some major problems with 'local' and certification. Did you know if you buy some certified apples from the Adelaide hills (local) But the inputs to grow these can come from anywhere in the world eg Kelp from Canada. This is allowed.
The other isue I encounted was with local flour, certified Organic, to maintain supply certified wheat from USA was used -resulty crappy organic flour -same brand flour (non organic) excellent quality!!!!!!!!!!

Kate said...

Laucke organic flour is now coming from Turkey - they told me in the market, but the label does not mention this !