Monday, June 04, 2007

Finally, food miles under attack

Front page of the Sunday Telegraph and a large feature inside it raises the point that has been made all along on this blog and elsewhere, that food miles are an inaccurate measure of the environment impact of food production and distribution - but one that the inefficient European farming sector (propped up as it is by tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers' funds) milks. I shouldn't put all European farms on the same level, it is fairly clear those in the east are more efficient, since they get a fraction of the subsidies of French farms.
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The point is made that:
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British lamb takes, on average, 2849kg of C02 for every tonne raised
New Zealand lamb takes, on average, 688kg of C02 for every tonne raised including shipping it to the UK
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British apples are "greener" in autumn and winter, but not in spring and summer when importing them from New Zealand is better than keeping stock in storage.
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A similar story applies to lettuces, tomatoes and strawberries, as the growing season for such veges and fruit is short in Britain, requiring heated greenhouses. It is better to import them from Spain.
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Even importing beans by air from Kenya or Uganda is more environmentally friendly than growing locally.
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However, onions can be grown in the UK for 14kg less C02 per tonne than importing from NZ.
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Still, it's a start in breaking down this nonsense about food miles. Some of the details are listed here. The Guardian reports the same point, with no figures or mention of NZ.
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The solution is cold turkey on the CAP step by step:
1. Eliminate all export subsidies by the EU (stop distorting foreign markets by your protected grub);
2. Eliminate all non-tariff barriers to agricultural imports in the EU (quotas and specific bans);
3. Put a ceiling of 100% on all agricultural tariffs ratcheting down to 75%, 50% and 25% each year, do the same to subsidies capping them in nominal terms and reducing them annually to zero.
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Meanwhile Sarkozy threatens to veto WTO talks over agriculture - see he isn't Thatcher after all.

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