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First 'climate friendly' labels appear on foods

First 'climate friendly' labels appear on foods

SWEDEN is to become the first country to slap "climate-friendly" labels on food products. The hope is that the labels will prompt consumers to buy greener products, but there are worries that some companies may use the scheme to "greenwash".

A small milk producer north of Stockholm is expected to be the first company to sport the "climate-certified" tag. One way it cut its use of energy and nutrients was by switching from chemical-based fertilisers to manure.

The scheme is voluntary and firms must prove they have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in order to earn a label. "The only thing we're guaranteeing is that improvements have been made," says Anna Richert, an adviser to the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF), and head of the team developing the criteria for labelling products. "This could mean reductions in emissions of anything from 5 to 80 per cent."

Danielle Nierenberg of Worldwatch Institute, a Washington DC based think tank, says that there is still a shortage of firm figures for emissions produced when growing, processing, shipping and selling most foods. "Because we don't have a lot of good scientific data, I think there's a risk that companies will claim things they can't back up, and greenwash products that might not be climate friendly," she says.

Richert says this won't happen because each product will be certified independently. "We're quite certain the system won't be abused."

Source: new scienist

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