Sustainability labelling & the PEF – Closed event in the European Parliament

Green Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Benoît Biteau, Claude Gruffat and Michèle Rivasi held an invitation-only event in the European Parliament about the shortcomings of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and its implications for the future sustainability label. The aim of this meeting was to organise an exchange between the Commission, MEPs and stakeholder representatives on the PEF’s methodology.

NGO representatives intervened on behalf of consumers, environmental organisations and animal welfare organisations – namely the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Eurogroup for Animals – as well as representatives from Franprix, Danone and the cooperative Terrena. Commission representatives from the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), Environment (DG ENV), Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), and Maritime affairs and fisheries (DG MARE) were also present.

Planet Score, only label measuring ‘external costs’
The Institute of Organic Food and Farming in France (ITAB) presented the PlanetScore methodology, the only existing and developed label that supports a transition to more sustainable food systems rather than further intensification, according to think tank IDDRI.

The ITAB, NGOs as well as company representatives present at the meeting raised their concerns regarding the PEF, a methodology based on life-cycle analysis that in its current form does not adequately account for externalities such as the impact of pesticides, the impact on biodiversity, or animal welfare. For instance, such a methodology makes it quite difficult to differentiate between different methods of production in terms of environmental impact, leading to results where organic and local vegetables score the same as imported and conventional vegetables – an A.

IFOAM Organics Europe is concerned that the PEF will be used as the methodology underpinning the upcoming EU-wide sustainability labelling, as this would likely lead to better scores being placed on products that were produced intensively, rather than extensively. For instance, eggs from caged hens score better than free range or organic eggs.

IFOAM Organics Europe members can enjoy reading our member-only briefing on the sustainability labelling, the PEF and the PlanetScore.

For more information on sustainability labelling and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on this issue, please contact [email protected]. IFOAM Organics Europe members can find more information on the member extranet. Contact [email protected] for access rights (issues).

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