Presentation

This Study proposes an original framework to identify the diets and visions of the agricultural system implicitly favoured in the different methodological options proposed in the context of the experiment on environmental labelling in France. This clarification work allows us to take a step back in order to facilitate arbitration on the methodological options. In so doing, the study aims at facilitating the debates and contributing to reducing the risk of a multiplication of labelling systems, or even a postponement of their implementation, as has been the case in the past, which would be contrary to the urgent need for transition and to societal demand. 

Key Messages

  • The main proposals for environmental labelling (EL) converge on encouraging a reduction in animal proteins (and an increase in plant proteins), which is an essential component of the ecological transition. However, there are divergences in the evolution of the consumption of different animal products, which are linked to technical and scientific limitations, but also to different visions of what a sustainable agricultural system is, each having a different prioritisation of environmental issues. 
     
  • The methodological discussion on EL reflects one of the main debates on agricultural transition: on the one hand, a bifurcation towards a more extensive agro-ecological model, which favours complementarity between animal and plant crops in order to avoid the use of nitrogen fertilisers; on the other hand, a relative continuity with the current intensive system. In the first case, significant changes in the consumption of animal products make this transition to another agricultural system possible; in the second, they simply accompany the intensification efforts in order to reduce the pressure on the environment.
     
  • In the context of EL, these alternative models can be seen in the choice of additional indicators and their weighting, but also in changes to the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) framework, which has become the basic foundation of EL.
     
  • Through a systemic and comparative approach to indicators, weighting criteria and underlying visions, this study helps to take a step back on the methodological issues of LCA and thus contributes to the discussions on a convergence towards a sufficiently robust and operational EL for the transition, a perspective which seems to us to be attainable in the short term.
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