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Free Trade vs Food Miles

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posted on May, 2 2006 @ 09:19 AM
Both Free trade and the Environment are big issues at the moment and will continue to be big issues for quite some time to come, but what happens when there is conflict between the two?

Free trade in its basic form is the end to tariffs and biased protection of goods, which means places such as Africa will be selling more goods (at fairer prices to them) in the UK, France, America etc.
This will mean there will be an increased demand for the transportation of such goods, meaning an increase in fuel consumption to actually get the goods from point A to point B.
But its never as simple as the Tomato goes from the farm in China to England, oh no, it bounces around all over the place getting packaged in say Poland, then going to the Netherlands for processing then finally ending up somewhere vaguely in England before being driven to its destination the supermarket or store.
All these miles that the food travels is often referred to as Food Miles, so simply the more food miles your food travels the more pollution its going to generate.
With the onset of Free Trade becoming more and more popular places further and further away are going to start exporting food produce to our dinner plates meaning more pollution than ever before.

Free Trade
International trade of goods without tariffs (taxes on imports) or other trade barriers (e.g., quotas on imports)
International trade in services without tariffs or other trade barriers
The free movement of labor between countries
The free movement of capital between countries
The absence of trade-distorting policies (such as taxes, subsidies, regulations or laws) that give domestic firms, households or factors of production an advantage over foreign ones.
Government protection of property rights to enforce the above conditions

Food Miles
Put simply, food miles are the measure of the distance a food travels from field to plate. Agriculture and food now account for nearly 30 per cent of goods transported on our roads.

This travel adds substantially to the carbon dioxide emissions that are contributing to climate change - which is why food miles matter. A new report by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that food miles rose by 15 per cent between 1992 and 2002.

So then you must ask yourself, do I have a moral obligation to buy Fair Trade produce from poorer countries even though its going to cost the Environment, or do I stick closer to home supporting local farmers and cutting down on food miles.
But still, there will be things such as Coffee beans which can't be grown in a cold climate such as England, so then you could think to yourself ''Its ok to buy coffee beans from Kenya as my local food will counter the food miles''. But then who do the Kenyan farmers sell their carrots to, as they won't get as much profit if they sell the carrots in a neighbouring African country?

It all a circle of what ifs and who know?!

Just an observation I had...

Thread Note: I haven't a clue whether Kenya grows carrots its merely an example

posted on May, 2 2006 @ 08:32 PM
Free trade involves having the market dictate the purchase price. So if the product, food or not really, costs more because it has to be transported, then it will be bought less, so it shoudl self regulate.

But yes, I would think that, as global trade increases, pollution due to transportation would increase, though I expect that that'd be slight.

To 'counter-act' it, you could probably just require that all cars on the road in the US get at lest 26 mpg or some such.

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