New food comparison study

A RESEARCH TEAM from the University of Wales is seeking to recruit farmers to take part in a groundbreaking study on food production.

The study will compare domestically produced food and imported food in terms of their impact on the environment. And the researchers are hoping to involve 60-90 farmers in the UK. The UK sites will then be compared with sites in Greece and Kenya.

 Project manager Barry Hounsome at the Centre for the Economics of Health (UiW) told FW that there had been much talk about food miles over the last few years.

 “But there is a lack of scientific evidence as to the total environmental impact of food production and transportation. This is what our study seeks to provide,” said Mr Hounsome.

 “The study will take into account total inputs and outputs in the whole life cycle of food products and then compare imports and homegrown produce. This has never been done before,” said the project”s soil scientist, David Jones.

Dr Jones told FW that there are no foregone conclusions, as it is not clear, for instance, that gas emissions from transport are greater than emissions from fields, and factors such as greenhouse heating costs will have to be compared to the cost of transport.

 “British farmers are keen to get consumers to buy home-grown food because it is felt to be good for the local economy. While this makes sense to farmers, some consumers are more sceptical of this approach.

 “We hope our study will provide consumers with some scientific facts about the environmental impacts of buying home grown and imported food,” said project leader Prof Gareth Edward-Jones of the UiW”s School of Agricultural and Forest Science.

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