Organic farmers in Africa fear for their livelihoods as U.K. frets over food miles

Small-scale organic farmers in Kenya and other African countries are waiting anxiously to find out whether the U.K.’s main organic certifier, the Soil Association, will withdraw organic certification from food items that are flown in from far-flung regions. Concerned that the air-freighting of food contributes to global warming, the Soil Association has been contemplating the move as a way to get Brits to buy local. Critics of the proposal say it could destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Africans who work on organic farms. Critics also question the assumption that food produced in Britain has a lower carbon footprint than food flown in from developing countries, noting that British farmers may heat greenhouses in cold climates, use tractors, and drive to their fields in cars. Says Elijah Koinange of the Organic Farmers’ Group in Kenya, “They say our products are polluted, but the consumers take jets and create much more pollution than we do.”