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Opinion: Adding labels to food is good

for shoppers and the Earth


By Joseph Poore, The Guardian, adapted by Newsela staff on 10.18.18
Word Count 409
Level 600L

Chobani yogurt cups are displayed in a New York City supermarket. Photo by: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Every washing machine in Europe has a sticker. Each fridge and TV has one too.
The sticker shows buyers how much environmental harm the machines cause.
A 1992 European Union law made sure the appliances were labeled.

In the U.S., the Energy Labeling Rule was passed in 1979. It also makes sure
appliances are labeled.

Food should have similar labels. Why have governments not demanded them? The
labels could show the effect making food has on the environment. Labels enforced
by law would change how we make food. Labels would also change how we buy
food.

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Making food can be harmful. It could cause extinction for 10,000 creatures.
Making food also produces about 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
These gases harm the Earth. They make the planet hotter. This causes danger for
humans and animals.

Labels would lead to three major changes. They would help the environment.
First, food producers would have to track their effects on the environment. They
would also be responsible for the results.

Labels Would Educate Shoppers About Their Food

This would not cost too much money. Digital tools are already being used. They do
not cost a lot of money. Olam is a large farming company. It already tracks
160,000 growers with a digital tool.

The food company Costco also used digital tools. The company's egg makers
found ways to cut greenhouse gases. The egg makers cut them by 13 percent.

The second change is that food labels would help shoppers. Similar products can
have different effects on the environment.

Here is one example. Making a chocolate bar can create about 14.33 pounds of
carbon dioxide. This is a greenhouse gas. That much carbon dioxide is released
into the air by driving 30 miles in a car. Another chocolate bar could be made
from cacao trees. These trees store carbon. They take it out of the air. They would
cause no emissions.

Shoppers would see the facts on labels. They would see them every time they
went to the store. Shoppers could avoid the harmful food makers. That would
make a huge difference.

The third change is about teaching people. The labels would help people learn
more about the food system. When governments learn, they can create better
laws. In particular, lawmakers could end taxes leading to harm. They could also
stop giving money to harmful food makers.

Joseph Poore researches agriculture and the environment at the University of


Oxford in England.

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