ecological assessment of food
Yesterday, Wednesday, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) hosted an expert dialogue on the ecological assessment of food in an online event. After the welcome by Ronny Meyer, Head of the Department of Policy and Dialogue at the BMUV, Ulrike Eberle, Managing Director of corsus, gave the thematic keynote speech of the event. This was followed by a discussion round and the presentation of further activities in the process by the Federal Environment Agency.
Dr. Ulrike Eberle briefly introduced the environmental impact of food and explained that the life cycle assessment according to ISO 14040/44 forms the methodological basis for an ecological footprint of food. In particular, this requires a valid database of environmental information on foods consumed and produced in Germany. So far, however, such a database is lacking. The ecological footprint can be used in a variety of ways, for example:
- to monitor the environmental impact of food in Germany as part of the nutrition strategy,
- for calculating the emissions of raw materials as part of a corporate carbon footprint,
- for strategy development and environmental and sustainability management in companies, for example to optimize recipes,
- to support sustainability reporting,
- for the analysis of environment-related human rights due diligence in accordance with the German Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act (LkSG),
- but also as a basis for communication instruments such as an environmental or sustainability labels.
Therefore, it is central that such a database is developed and made available. In France, this has already been the case for several years with the Agribalyse database. The French database could and should also be used as a starting point for the development of a German database, as many expert discussions have already taken place there on urgently needed uniform rules for the collection of data. After all, it is also important at this point to keep an eye on the EU-wide compatibility of databases and environmental information on food.
At the same time, from corsus’ point of view, it is important that methods for the environmental assessment of food are further developed on an international level. Especially for environmental impacts that are strongly determined by food, such as soil health and biodiversity, but also overfertilization and ecotoxicity. Existing “blind spots” should be closed in order to be able to validly map ecological differences of various production systems.
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