The ecological makeup of farms should be reflected in food labelling and price in the near future, a biodiversity conference heard this week.

Project manager of the Wild Atlantic Nature Life integrated project Derek McLoughlin said the quality of ecosystems utilised in food production needs to be highlighted to consumers.

“The quality of hedgerows, the quality of woodlands, the quality of grassland, all of which are very vital types of habitats; I think we need to get to the point where the food that we consume, be it labels, be it the prices and so on, reflects all of the outputs of that farm.

“That could be a damaging operation or it could be an excellent operation.

“Either way, I think we need to move towards the point in the near future where we can have labelling on the types of eco-system services that have been developed in association with that food,” he said.


Speaking at 'Addressing Biodiversity Loss in Ireland', McLoughlin said focus has shifted from food security to lower-emissions food production and farmers need to be financially rewarded for “climate services” they provide.

“Things have moved on since the end of World War II, obviously and thankfully, when food shortages were a massive concern.

“CAP was developed from a food production perspective and evolves as we go on.

“We have other challenges now as well as food [affordability], we have climate, we have biodiversity, we have water quality.

“If we think of a farmer’s perspective, if you're producing food and you're producing climate services, you need to be rewarded for that,” he said.

McLoughlin spoke as part of a panel - 'Immediate actions needed to halt biodiversity loss' - at the conference organised by the Policy Forum of Ireland.