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Freight Transport Association FTA warns Benn Don’t fudge the food miles debate

To manage the carbon footprint of the food in our kitchens, consumers need to be given the full picture to make an informed choice. So says leading trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which has called for a full and honest debate about food and produce labelling, in response to the Government’s food strategy unveiled today by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn at the Oxford Farming Conference.

The distance that a product has travelled is not a reliable indicator of its environmental impact. To discern the true carbon footprint of a product, one has to measure the mode of transportation and also the production process.

Christopher Snelling, Head of Global Supply Chain Policy, said:

"By fixating on ‘country of origin’ as an indicator of a product’s environmental credentials we are not giving consumers an accurate picture. Method of production, for example heated greenhouses, often has a far bigger impact than miles travelled on a product’s carbon footprint. If consumers are given a misleading impression it will only lead to token gestures towards ‘going green’, rather than real results."

More than one million rural African livelihoods depend on the UK’s consumption of their fruit and vegetables.

Snelling concluded:

"By deterring people from buying produce from Africa or Asia we risk penalising millions trying to make a living in the developing world."

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