In the maze of food labels, too few guarantees on their profits

Red label, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Who’s the boss ?!, Organic farming (AB)… In front of a supermarket shelf, consumers can easily find themselves overwhelmed by the profusion of information on the labels. Most of these labels, some of which are public, such as AB, and others private, such as the Bleu-Blanc-Cœur brand, pride themselves on offering products of better quality and produced under more favorable conditions. environmentally friendly and socially better. But what guarantees do they really offer? It is to assess the gap between the intentions displayed and their impact that three associations, the World Wide Fund (WWF) with Greenpeace on one side and the UFC-Que Choisir on the other, present, Tuesday, September 28, two complementary analyzes on “Promises” labels.

The first study, conducted by WWF and Greenpeace, with the Basic (Office of societal analysis for citizen information), focuses on the environmental and socio-economic impact of a panel of eleven major labels, grouped into three categories: those that are support the foundation of organic farming (AB, Demeter, Nature & progress); those who share the approach of “environmental certification” (Zero pesticide residue or High environmental value – HVE -, less restrictive than organic farming); and labels defined by sector, such as PDO or Label Rouge.

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All these procedures are subject to a common analysis grid comprising seven environmental criteria (climate change, air pollution, soil degradation, etc.) and seven socio-economic criteria (working conditions, achievement of a decent standard of living , impacts on human health, etc.). The authors of the study both went through the specifications, but also carried out a qualitative analysis, based on published studies and supplemented by interviews, to arrive at a double rating of 1 to 5.

Heterogeneous results

According to this analysis grid, it is the approaches based on organic farming that have the greatest environmental and socio-economic potential, conclude WWF and Greenpeace. “It is not a surprise, but we see that an approach which sets robust and controlled criteria, such as the ban on synthetic fertilizers, offers a higher level of guarantee”, notes Joseph D’Halluin, “agriculture” campaigner at Greenpeace. Labels linked to sectors show heterogeneous results: the report distinguishes, for example, the county PDO, which has good results in terms of agricultural model as well as price construction and transparency, when the cantal PDO obtains much lower grades.

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