Denmark discusses labeling food for climate impact

The Danish government began discussing proposals Tuesday to oblige food manufacturers and supermarkets to pu...

Posted: Oct. 9, 2018 9:12 PM
Updated: Oct. 9, 2018 9:12 PM

The Danish government began discussing proposals Tuesday to oblige food manufacturers and supermarkets to put labels on their products that would rate their impact on the environment and climate.

The move is being supported by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, the industry umbrella organization that also sees it as an opportunity to promote best practices when it comes to mitigating the effects of farming on climate change.

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"Everyone knows that food production influences the climate, but if the rest of the world produced food the way we do in Denmark, the world would be a better place," said Morten Høyer, director of the council.

Denmark has been working with the European Union for the past 10 years to develop a climate label, but as Høyer admits, it is not that simple.

"It may be necessary to compare the climate effect of a product with how nutritious it is. A soda might only have a small impact on the climate, but it will not sustain you," said Høyer.

He admits the task won't be easy.

The livestock sector plays an important role in climate change, representing 14.5% of all human-induced emissions of carbon dioxide, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. Other climate impacts of food include how far it has traveled from farm to table, what kind of pesticides are used and how much water was needed.

"Our goal is to develop an accurate label. We must include every piece of information so products like plant-based substitutes for ground meat has information on the climate impact of the soy in the product which is produced in South America," Høyer told CNN.

"Things like these are difficult to calculate, so we have a worthy challenge ahead of us before we can say with certainty that we have the right solution for a climate label."

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