13 November 2008

Dodgy food miles

Ronald Bailey points out that advocates of 'food miles' awareness are over-simplifying the problem of greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural production:
Local food production does not always produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the 2005 DEFRA study found that British tomato growers emit 2.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide for each ton of tomatoes grown compared to 0.6 tons of carbon dioxide for each ton of Spanish tomatoes. The difference is British tomatoes are produced in heated greenhouses. Another study found that cold storage of British apples produced more carbon dioxide than shipping New Zealand apples by sea to London. In addition, U.K. dairy farmers use twice as much energy to produce a metric ton of milk solids than do New Zealand farmers. Other researchers have determined that Kenyan cut rose growers emit 6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per 12,000 roses compared to the 35 tons of carbon dioxide emitted by their Dutch competitors. Kenyan roses grow in sunny fields whereas Dutch roses grow in heated greenhouses.
Of course I'm biased: without New Zealand milk and apples the economy would be shot. 
- Ronald Bailey, Reason.com, 4 November 2008

[Courtesy of AL Daily]

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