Published on: 19 October 2017
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is calling on the government to scrap its ‘Origin Green’ certification programme as it has transpired that some of the country’s worst polluters are among those certified by the scheme. In its quarterly ‘name and shame’ list of worst performers, the Environmental Protection Agency has listed three companies from the dairy sector which scored highly under the categories of complaints, incidents, compliance investigations and non-compliances.
These are: Arrabawn Co-Op, Carbery Food Ingredients, and Dairy Gold Co-op (see http://www.epa.ie/enforcement/
‘Origin Green’ is a marketing label promoted by An Bord Bia which claims to be the ‘world’s first national food sustainability programme’. It was recently in receipt of €1 million in tax-payers’ money for a national advertising programme. The agri-food sector in Ireland is the principle pressure on water pollution, habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland.
IWT Campaigns Officer, Pádraic Fogarty says “it is time that Origin Green was exposed for the sham that it is and should be scrapped. Instead of being a tool to promote better environmental performance it is simply a smokescreen for ‘greenwashing’ the significant environmental problems which we face. The imminent extinction of the Curlew, for instance, can be directly linked to Fine Gael’s massive agricultural expansion programmes, something which Origin Green does nothing to address.”
Figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine show that in 2016 An Bord Bia received €32,492,000 in public money for the marketing of Irish food, something which leans heavily on our supposedly ‘green’ credentials. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the body which manages our natural heritage meanwhile, received only €13,522,000 in 2015 (the most recent year for which a figure is available). If the aspiration of environmentally sensitive agriculture is to be realised, the NPWS must be fully funded and organised in such a way that it can fulfill its duties. Marketing initiatives, such as Origin Green, significantly hinder efforts at environmental protection by creating the false impression that all is well in the countryside.