Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Buying organic food ‘can harm the planet'

The Times

By Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter

Buying organic food grown locally may sometimes be more damaging to the environment than nipping down to the supermarket for produce that has been driven hundreds of miles across the country, a new study suggests.
Research looking at the environmental impact of food from farm to the plate and beyond suggests that locally-grown food may not be as environmentally friendly as it’s said to be.
Similarly, long-distance transportation may not deserve the demonisation it has received for the emissions of carbon dioxide it generates. However, scientists questioned the growing use of aircraft to carry foods around the world.
The findings, from a study commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to guide policy on which types of food production and consumption to encourage, prompted a furious response from the Soil Association, which promotes and certifies organic food.
The report concludes that so little is known about the overall environmental impact of any food produce that it is impossible to say which are the most environmentally friendly.
But while the merits of some organic products were recognised by the study, researchers pointed out that others cause more damage than non-organic items.


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