New Zealand's top organic group has made a submission on the UK Soil Association's 'Green Paper on Air Freight', opposing the suggestion from Britain's largest organic certifier that air freighted products should be banned from carrying their organic label.
Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) chair David Wright said OANZ accepts there are a range of negative environmental impacts from air freight, but believes they shouldn't be considered in isolation and shouldn't be used as a barrier to organic trade.
Air Freight only one carbon marker
"The impact of air transport should be considered as part of the product's total life cycle, and efforts should be made to reduce the environmental impact of the whole system."
Well publicised research by Lincoln University clearly illustrated the number of miles something travels is not a good guide to the amount of carbon dioxide and other emissions produced he said.
Organic energy efficient
The lack of synthetic chemicals in organic systems can make them more energy efficient than conventional systems, but organic standards should continue to develop towards carbon neutrality, Mr Wright said.
"Organic production has been identified by farmers in developing countries as a way
out of poverty, and in some cases air freight is the only viable route to developed
Third world trade
Mr Wright said restrictions on the transport of organic products risks damaging one worthy goal - the development of the third world - in order to meet another.
OANZ is asking the UK Soil Association to switch its focus to examine the carbon footprint of products measured over their whole life cycle, and to take into account any related carbon offsets.
Internationally, the Soil Association is a leader in organic development.
"We'd like them to lead the way to carbon neutral organic farming systems, rather than single out particular elements such as air freight or food miles", Mr Wright said.