The European organic movement IFOAM has turned to the Court of Justice in Paris to ask to ban the use of the Eco-score environmental labeling on food products. This information system, complaint, can be unfair and misleading for consumers.
IFOAM, stop the Eco-score
ifoam extension Organics Europe and the French Association of IFOAM Members have filed a lawsuit against the creators and users of the Eco-score label, namely
– ADEME, the French agency for ecological transition,
– YUCA, the company that owns the YUKA app,
– the company ECO2 INITIATIVE, manager of the ETIQUETTABLE platform,
– the OPEN FOOD FACTS association, also and in particular as manager of the homonymous platform.
Organic movements had repeatedly protested against the Eco-score environmental labeling model, highlighting that paradoxically it penalizes the most virtuous foods for environmental protection, as we had reported. (1)
The scheme evaluation system designed by ECO2, in fact, only considers the carbon footprint of the products. As a result, it can give a favorable score even to intensive agro-industry products that spread poisons, against an investment in solar panels. A concept evidently far from agroecology, which protects the soil and the environment.
Eco-score environmental labeling, they specify IFOAM Organics Europe and the French Association of IFOAM Members, is illegitimate because
- contrary to Article 30 of Regulation (EU) No. 2018/848 (ex Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007) on organic production and labeling of organic products,
- may constitute a misleading commercial practice to the detriment of consumers and the market.
Particularly, and among other things, due to:
- its format, as (i) it illicitly associates the diminutive "Eco" with certified non-organic products and (ii) it is deemed likely to create confusion among consumers, not only in France but more widely in Europe, between products from organic and those from non-organic production.
- the methodology of rating used, which is mainly and essentially based on the Agribalyse database and the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the ADEME, as well as the PEF methodology (Product Environmental Footprint) recently questioned by the European Commission in the context of the draft Directive on green states that
– does not consider all the objective dimensions that are essential for the development of reliable environmental exposure of food products,
– ultimately favors intensive and conventional production rather than a transition of production systems towards processes that respect the environment and biodiversity,
– is not suitable for providing consumers with relevant information on the environmental impacts of food products.
Invalidity of Related Trademarks
Two more actions initiatives have been initiated by IFOAM Organics Europe and the French Association of IFOAM Members.
– the first, brought before the General Director of the INPI, to pursue the nullity of the "ECO SCORE" trademark (n°4618707) registered at the request of the ADEME,
– the second, brought before the EUIPO, to contribute as a third party to the examination of the application for registration as a trademark of the European Union (n°018750670) “ECO IMPACT” presented by FOUNDATION EARTH.
Yet another attack on organic farming
"Instead of fighting greenwashing, labeling schemes such as Eco-score contribute to this. They potentially mislead consumers as to the organic or non-organic nature of the food products they are displayed on and favor products of intensive agriculture.
The organic movement is concerned about the spread of such labeling schemes in several EU countries.
It is more important than ever to better inform consumers about the environmental value of their food choices. But this must be done in compliance with the European legislation on organic farming as regards the terms used, and on the basis of methodologies that take into account all the externalities linked to the different agricultural production methods, in particular on biodiversity”, clarifies Jan Plagge, president of IFOAM Organics Europe.
"As stated by the Court of Auditors in its recent report, the benefits of organic farming for the environment are clearly established in the scientific literature and its development is the best way to achieve an agri-environmental transition of our food systems.
In an already difficult context of inflation for producers and consumers, attacks on organic agriculture must be stopped, whether they are linked to the use of misleading terms or tendentious methodologies. Terms that are only allowed on organic food products under EU regulations should not be used for other purposes, and certainly not on environmentally unfriendly food products as is currently the case with the Eco-score”, comments Jacques Caplat, president of the French Association of IFOAM Members.
Footnotes to the story
(1) Dario Dongo, Marta Strinati. Environmental labeling, the Planet-score debuts in France. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.11.21/XNUMX/XNUMX
Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".