Recommendations for Biodiversity Criteria in Standards and Quality Labels for the Food Industry

The initiative "Biodiversity Criteria in Standards and Quality Labels of the Food Sector” seeks to motivate standards and quality labels in the food industry to better integrate the conservation of biodiversity in their standard policy and criteria for products or production processes. A guide with recommendations is now available online.

Bonn, 23.10.2014

Next to climate change, the loss of biodiversity is one of the largest fundamental challenges of our time. The food producing and processing industries have significant impacts on biodiversity. Currently, biodiversity, ecosystem services and their protection continue to play only a minor role in food industry even though their fundamental importance is known today. This project seeks to motivate standards and quality labels in the food industry to better integrate the conservation of biodiversity in their criteria for products and to adapt and improve existing standards and quality labels.

The project also targets proprietary standards and labels for farm operators and food processing/distributing companies that should be motivated to define biodiversity criteria or to optimize existing criteria.

Why should Standards and Labels Integrate Criteria Related to Biodiversity?

The protection and sustainable use of biodiversity are not just environmental issues but also prerequisites for economic production processes, services and quality of life. The loss of biodiversity threatens economic foundations, especially those in the food industry that rely on nature for their supply of raw materials. Standards and labels set an example, can steer societal developments and should ensure the protection of the environment and biodiversity with certifications that surpass legal requirements. In addition, certified farm operations and food companies that are committed to the protection of biodiversity are better prepared for future changes in legislation and enjoy a competitive advantage by attracting a growing group of consumers who increasingly prefer products made with a high regard for environmental and social criteria.

The criteria of 19 labels and standards were analyzed with regard to their relevance to biodiversity protection. Project partners identified biodiversity relevant criteria in standards and examined to which extent the existing criteria address critical points in relation to biodiversity and where an urgent need for improving existing standards and labels exists. The results were discussed with representatives from standards organizations, companies, farm operations and environmental experts. These findings were published in the Baseline Report.

As the next step, the Lake Constance Foundation and the Global Nature Fund compiled recommendations for policies for the standards organizations and concrete criteria for biodiversity protection. A working group consisting of representatives from standards organizations, the REWE Group, other companies from the food industry and trading companies, as well as certifiers and environmental organizations all supported the development of these criteria. In addition, the recommendations will be presented in a large forum with the aim of involving all stakeholders in the process of reaching a broad consensus.

Since July 2014, the recommendations and criteria have been discussed with the label and standards organizations and companies that maintain their own labels and standards in order to generate concrete steps for implementing the recommendations. Project partners have also made suggestions for activities the standards organizations and companies can conduct together to take advantage of the synergies that exist between them. These include, among others, the continued cooperative development of biodiversity criteria, scientific studies of food industry impacts on biodiversity, and common and agreed upon monitoring systems.

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Recommendations for Biodiversity Criteria in Standards and Quality Labels for the Food Industry

Tags: Biodiversity Indicators | Biodiversity Management | Biodiversity policy | Agriculture and food | Food Industry


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