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Fair trade, Carbon Footprints and Affordable Food - Biopesticides help Balance the Books

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By : Article Distribution    29 or more times read
Submitted 2010-04-04 00:00:00
Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 in the UK focused on - The Big Swap - when consumers have been encouraged to swap their usual purchase for a fair trade alternative.

Almost a million people rose to the Fairtrade Foundation's challenge between February 22 and March 7 2010.

That's great for producers in the developing world, many of them small farmers who often struggle to make a living when they have to compete with import protection and the costs of buying the seeds and fertilisers.

Here's what the Department for International Development has to say on Fair trade: "DFID welcomes Fairtrade Fortnight. It supports its message of making trade work for the developing world. But our commitment to fair trade is not just confined to two weeks in February. We believe that trade is a very powerful way to reduce world poverty, which is why we work throughout the year to improve trading opportunities for poor countries."

But this also presents consumers with a seemingly insoluble dilemma - when we're also being exhorted to buy local to reduce our carbon footprint and do our bit to combat climate change, global warming and the like. If consumers are persuaded to only buy local produce it affects farmers in often poor countries. Here's the DFID again "With British shoppers spending over £1 million every day on African fruit and vegetables, and supplies of organic African produce growing, a ban {on imported foods} could result in the loss of a valuable market and affect many small farmers. "Recent estimates suggest that almost a million rural African livelihoods depend at least partly on the fruit and vegetable trade with the UK."

Would you give up bananas, melons, avocados or even green peppers - things we tend to take for granted and half the time forget are imported - in order to reduce your carbon footprint?

How do we even know whether our sacrifice would have a significant impact?

Is there a solution?

Studies show that organic farming can be more profitable than conventional methods of production.

Did you know? - Organic horticultural exports from the developing world to Europe are calculated to be worth US$100 million a year. - Driving six and a half miles to buy your shopping emits more carbon than flying a pack of Kenyan green beans to the UK. - Air-freighting fruit and vegetables from Africa accounts for less than one-tenth of 1% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Co-op Group, we must "ensure that the world's poorest producers are not penalised for what are essentially the sins of world's richest consumers." - For example, Kenya's carbon emissions are 200kg per head, while in the UK they are almost 50 times that.

Companies in the lead in research and development of agricultural products like biopesticides, including Marcus Meadows-Smith, CEO of US based company Agraquest echo this sentiment.

He, too, believes it is not right for farmers to have to compromise on yield and that sustainable farming using this new generation of safer, more natural agro products, may eventually provide part of the answer to the dilemma, particularly in the developing world, since it will help protect their land, maximise its yield and help producers to sell their products in the global marketplace.

Hopefully eventually none of us will have to wrestle with our consciences between Fair Trade and reducing our carbon footprint - nor sacrifice our melons and bananas.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers
Author Resource:- Could you give up your bananas and melons? There's an ongoing dilemma for shoppers between buying local to reduce your carbon footprint or buying fairtrade to help small farmers in developing countries to survive. Consumer journalist Ali Withers looks at the issues and asks whether greater use of biopesticides in agriculture, like those prioduced by US company AgraQuest, could make a difference.
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