Avoiding eco-seals

Coming up with international eco-labeling standards that don't impede U.S. packagers is important, according to Karil Kochenderfer, director of environmental affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), testifying before Congress in late February.

Specifically, some eco-labels, especially "eco-seals," offer misleading and incomplete information and could serve as a barrier to U.S. trade, she argued. Eco-seals, which are awarded by centralized certification panels, have become popular overseas, particularly in Europe. But, said Kochenderfer, the criteria used to award eco-seals are subjective, not scientific and can be barriers to innovation. In some cases, they are discriminatory and protectionist, becoming a barrier to trade, she noted. She also said they fail to educate consumers about the environmental attributes or trade-offs associated with a specific product. Kochenderfer was testifying on behalf of the 1겨-member multi-industry Coalition for Truth in Environmental Marketing, which favors a system modeled on the Federal Trade Commission's environmental labeling guidelines.

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