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The battle of the lobbies to torpedo the “environmental rating” of meals

A easy letter starting from A to E, on a colour chart from inexperienced to pink, comprehensible in a fraction of a second: the environmental rating could possibly be a robust weapon to vary habits, compel manufacturers to motion and put an finish to the tide of greenwashing that’s flooding the world of promoting… Until, quite the opposite, it turns into a formidable argument of greenwashing ?

The environmental rating ought to seem on the packaging of our merchandise in its official model on the finish of 2023, utilizing a method popularized since 2016 by the Nutri-score, which summarizes their dietary worth at a look. However for now, and regardless of some adjustments, the federal government’s work plan is worrying NGO organizations, shopper associations and group of natural farmers, joined by a number of massive retailers. It dangers ending up with a rating that poorly integrates the results of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, giving satisfaction of place to an agricultural mannequin that’s actually much less meaty, but in addition ultra-productivist.

Eco-score.

After nearly fifteen years of discussions and two years of experimentation, the providers of the Ministry of Ecological Transition have postponed for one 12 months the publication of the decrees fixing the calculation technique. A number of rating formulation can be examined on 550 merchandise within the coming months, to defuse the controversy » earlier than the take a look at of reality political arbitrations » in 2023, within the phrases of the Common Commissioner for Sustainable Growth (CGDD), division of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, contacted by Reporterre. A primary optionally available deployment of the rating can then happen.

Highly effective lobbies »

The approaching months are subsequently essential. Intense affect work is underway, as testified by Allon Zeitoun, director of Naturalia, the On line casino group’s chain of natural shops, throughout a convention organized in Paris on July 5: We’re not on this planet of Care Bears ! We face tremendous highly effective lobbies. The man who makes a number of billion on a D-rated unfold, he won’t ever let it go. If we expect it isn’t a strugglef [combat]is that we now have already misplaced it. »

Each quarter, the federal government providers carry dozens of organizations collectively in a committee of companions, to tell them of the progress of their work and document their reactions. It is extremely helpful work for us. »emphasizes the CGDD. However supporters of agroecology think about that the cube are loaded. We’re all the time within the minority and the discussions are distorted, as a result of the choices are made elsewhere »says Cécile Claveirole, nationwide secretary of France Nature Environnement and member of the Financial, Social and Environmental Council.

The satan is within the particulars: to calculate this rating, the federal government and the European Union suggest the life cycle evaluation technique (LCA), measuring the carbon emissions of a product at every stage of its life, from fork to fork ». Nearly everybody, nonetheless, has lengthy agreed that this technique is inadequate, as a result of it focuses on greenhouse fuel emissions per kilo of products, with out considering the complexity of dwelling issues. It should subsequently be accomplished.

For greater than two years, the gamers have subsequently been torn concerning the truthful value that should be attributed to the assorted parts of the environmental penalties, from pesticides to antibiotics, together with fertilizers and GMO. There isn’t a excellent systemunderlines Mathieu Saujot, coordinator at Sciences Po of the Life-style in transition program, who observes these discussions with an out of doors perspective. The problem is to discover a software that’s delicate sufficient, but in addition readable, possible with the out there knowledge, and which makes it doable to distinguish the classes of merchandise and the merchandise between them inside the similar class. »

High rated battery-raised rooster

Two experimental scores are in direct opposition, and with them two visions of agriculture: productivism and agroecology. On the one hand the Eco-score, carried by digital and catering corporations [1], guarantees ease of calculation and ease of understanding. It’s already out there on the Yuka software for 70,000 merchandise, because of a calculation technique based mostly solely on the substances out there on the packaging, which permits Web customers to fill within the software themselves to have a product rated.

Then again, the Planet-score, supported by gamers in natural farming, NGO weather conditions and a shopper affiliation [2]claims a better degree of transparency and a fuller vary of indicators taken into consideration [3].

Instance of a product with a Planet-score. Screenshot Planet-score

The primary level of competition is the significance given, within the notation, to the notion of agricultural yield. With l’LCA, a battery-raised rooster is rated increased than an natural free-range rooster, as a result of the latter requires more room and sources. Intensive crops, though intensive in pesticides and chemical inputs, additionally come out with the most effective marks. This represents a really excessive threat of greenwashing and crushing the dynamics of transformation and best-selling approaches »is alarmed Sabine Bonnot, president of the Technical Institute of Natural Agriculture (Itab) and host of Planet-score.

L’LCA promotes productivist agriculture and downgrades natural »

To combine a few of these criticisms, the Eco-score gives a bonus-malus to modulate its rating with regard to 5 new standards [4]. But it surely validates a normal philosophy unfavorable to agroecology: Successfully theLCA promotes productivist agriculture and downgrades natural. Sadly, there isn’t a excellent system, intensive agriculture is dangerous in some ways. However we won’t feed everybody natural, as a result of she wants a whole lot of land. Even when it is exhausting to listen to »says Julie Chapon, co-founder of Yuka, who considers that the Planet-score highlights the problem of pesticides in a completely disproportionate manner ».

This opposition between local weather and biodiversity exhibits the restrict of environmental show, based on Xavier Poux, affiliate researcher at IDDRI [5] and advisor for the Asca design workplace. By specializing in the dimensions of a product, we lose the general imaginative and prescient of the meals system whose environmental impacts rely upon its administration of house. »stated the researcher on the Planet-score help convention in July.

His staff of researchers ran a statistical mannequin to measure, exactly, whether or not agroecology was capable of feed Europe: The reply is sure, offered you produce much less (30 % drop in plant manufacturing and 50 % lower in animal manufacturing) and subsequently to eat much less. It will be illusory to wish to produce a lot and solely have merchandise rated A. It’s a change in financial logic and weight loss program that we should goal for. »

A laying hen farm within the Côtes-d’Armor, in 2018. L214 – Ethics & Animals/CC BY 3.0

Ditto for meat, which receives the worst Eco-score whatever the farming technique used, whereas intensive farming makes it doable to fertilize the soil with out nitrogen fertilizers, that are significantly emitters of greenhouse gases, and preserves the meadows. pure sources, cradles of biodiversity, based on supporters of Planet-score. Right here once more, Xavier Poux invitations us to broaden the main target to take a look at the meals system as an entire: If you wish to eat solely natural cereals rated A, will probably be essential to fertilize them that there’s livestock someplace, that somebody eats meat or yogurts ».

A rating that might say nothing »

In the meanwhile, the federal government is engaged on a calculation method near the Eco-score [6]. It completes the info of theLCA on 5 important axes [7]with particularly a sub-indicator Biodiversity » weighting the observe with, amongst different issues, using pesticides, to barely overprice the natural. This can permit free-range natural eggs, for instance, to have the identical score as battery-farmed eggs, which stays inadequate for the defenders of Planet-score. Neither the GMO nor the query of animal welfare can be represented on this rating, which constitutes an necessary victory for the industrialists. And the score would be the similar between merchandise in the identical class. It is true that theLCA “averages” merchandiseconfirms Julie Chapon. However it isn’t by going from an egg A to an egg B that we are going to have a optimistic impression. Now we have to fully change the way in which we eat. »

The chance is nonetheless to render the rating ineffective. We might arrive on a rating that might say nothingsays Sabine Bonnot indignantly. However the worst is that it will block actual transparency by changing all of the others. » The rating, when it’s formally deployed, will in actual fact be supposed to exchange options such because the Planet-score which is able to then be prohibited, signifies to Reporterre the CGDD.

We come up towards darkish forces »

Producers, for his or her half, are making efforts to restrict weightings by wrapping themselves behind the scientificity » of the tactic LCAcastigating the DIY » and the confusion » better-priced approaches. They push for the show to be dematerialized, that’s to say absent from the packaging.

They’re in a rush for decrees to ratify a method which is, in the meanwhile, favorable to them, however quite the opposite slows down the deployment of the rating in a compulsory method. The principle agricultural union (FNSEA), amongst different massive curiosity teams, is asking for the French initiative to be aligned with the European Union’s timetable, arguing that there’s a threat of distortion of competitors » if France have been to make environmental labeling obligatory by itself.

Europe is on the middle of their affect technique. Basis Earth, an uncorrected environmental score initiativeLCA, launched by the meals giants, is on the offensive. Specifically, it has simply poached an worker of the Ecological Transition Company (Ademe) as scientific supervisor, who labored for the French authorities on environmental labeling (Flore Nougarede). In its group chart, since July additionally seems as non-executive director a former lobbyist in chief of Monsanto, who was for a very long time director normal of FoodDrinkEurope, a robust group of industrialists of meals (Mella Frewen).

De son côté, la viande écope du pire Éco-score quel que soit le mode d’élevage utilisé. Pxhere/CC/René A. Da Rin

Planet-score fourbit aussi ses armes. Espérant rallier les consommateurs à sa trigger, il start ces jours-ci à se déployer. 170 entreprises appuient la démarche, les boutiques en ligne de Greenweez, Monoprix, Franprix, Naturalia, Biocoop, notamment, doivent les faire figurer sur les marques de distributeur et les œufs Fermiers de Loué l’ont déjà ajouté à leurs boîtes. « Il y a une prise de conscience. Certaines entreprises viennent spontanément nous voir, elles sont en practice de réaliser qu’il faut bouger », rapporte Sabine Bonnot. Pour ces marques, le rating peut être un puissant levier permettant de se distinguer de la concurrence et d’approfondir une stratégie de gamme : à situation d’être crédible, un rating environnemental constituerait un argument efficace pour convaincre une clientèle prête à payer plus cher pour des produits vertueux (et qui en a les moyens).

« Comme on se heurte à des forces obscures, on a décidé de faire nous aussi de l’affect, complète Sébastien Loctin, fondateur du collectif En vérité, un “contre-lobby” regroupant une soixantaine de marques, notamment biologiques. Avec l’aide d’un cupboard d’affaires publiques, nous allons rencontrer les députés et les conseillers ministériels, exposer nos arguments, et préparer un texte de loi qu’on espère pouvoir proposer aux parlementaires d’ici dix mois. »

D’après nos informations, cette contre-offensive du Planet-score inquiète les groupements d’industriels, qui tentent actuellement d’élaborer une réponse médiatique et scientifique.

Le conflit autour de la méthode ACV pourrait avoir des implications plus larges que l’affichage environnemental. La Fee européenne prévoit en effet d’en faire le pilier de sa stratégie de lutte contre l’écoblanchiment. Les entreprises seraient ainsi obligées de prouver leurs allégations environnementales sur la base des ACV. Le Parlement européen doit être prochainement saisi de cette query.

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