Add Environmental Impact Labels to Food

Target: Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Add wildlife conservation information to food packaging labels.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take a stand against the food industry’s negative impacts on the environment, and on wildlife in particular. Pointing out that many are uninformed about the negative effects food production can have on endangered species, the CBD would like to see this information added to commercial food labels alongside information about food sources and nutritional content. If this information was added to commercial food labels, the CBD alleges, consumers would become more mindful of the broader implications of their personal food consumption.

In addition to a nutritional facts label, a commercially packaged food product could include an environmental impact label. This additional label could detail impacts on the environment caused by the production of the particular food being consumed. These details could include amount of greenhouse gases released, square footage of deforested land, amount of water required, and area of natural habitat lost. Additional warnings could caution a consumer about particular wildlife species impacted by the food’s manufacturing process. This type of labeling would not only allow consumers to make more informed choices, it would push the food industry toward ecological accountability as well.

Ecological impacts from the food industry are increasingly devastating, and urgent action is needed. Almost 3 trillion gallons of water are used to raise feed for cows farmed for beef in California in just one year. The meat industry alone is responsible for massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and habitat loss, in addition to harms engendered by antibiotic and pesticide overuse. Increased transparency is needed across the food industry, and the public deserves to know how their consumer choices are affecting the environment. Urge the Department of Agriculture to add environmental impact labeling to all commercially-produced food.


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

Urgent action is needed to slow the devastating ecological impacts caused by the food industry. Food production is the cause of increasingly significant habitat loss, impacts on wildlife, greenhouse gas emissions, water waste, and other environmental concerns. We believe that adding a detailed environmental impact label to commercially produced food will allow consumers to make more informed choices, and will push the food production industry in accountability as well.

Food labels already include some information about a food’s sources. Consumers are informed whether a food is organically grown or not and whether a sugar is synthetic or natural. Adding information about the broad environmental impacts of a food’s production to its labeling will educate the public to make wiser choices, an outcome that could have a lasting positive impact on our environment and natural resources. We, the undersigned, ask you to consider adding environmental impact statements to commercial food labels in the near future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Maksim

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  1. It is important to have a view of the big picture of the effect that your diet plays a part in contributing to, is what one eats causing destruction of-or does it have a po9sitive effect on the environment.

    • Not just effects on wildlife, for goodness sake don’t forget that the way (and where)our foods are produced has an effect on the environment.

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