Life cycle assessments (LCAs) have become a widespread tool for the assessment of ecological sustainability in the farming and food sector. They are also used increasingly to compare agricultural production systems. Contrary to expectations, in product-based comparisons, foods produced in extensive production systems are often shown to have a lower eco-efficiency than foods from more intensive production systems, due to lower yields.
In the new fact sheet by FiBL, the authors state why substantial extensions to the current method are needed at different levels in order to perform substantive environmental assessments of the food production. In the future, the natural local carrying capacities and resource constraints should be considered in the life cycle assessments of agricultural products. This would also allow for the increased use of LCA findings as a spatial planning tool and would help to reconcile agricultural production objectives with societal protection objectives such as biodiversity or the protection of watercourses and groundwater from pollution.
This fact sheet was produced with financial support from the Coop Sustainability Fund in the framework of the project "Improving Life Cycle Assessment methodology to comprehensively model organic farming".
- shop.fibl.org: Factsheet "Life cycle assessments of organic foods"
- fibl.org: Improving Life Cycle Assessment methodology to comprehensively model organic farming