Ecolabel identifies environmentally friendly rice

A new ecolabel from the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is helping shoppers reduce their environmental impact by identifying rice that has been sustainably produced.

The SRP, a grouping of over 100 public, private, research, financial institutions and civil society organizations led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has developed the “SRP-Verified” Label to reduce the environmental impact of one of the largest food crops in the world.

Over 3.5 billion people rely on rice as a daily staple, but the crop has an undeniable environmental impact. Rice farming consumes up to one-third of the world’s developed freshwater resources and generates up to 20% of global anthropogenic emissions of methane, according to a statement.

The new Assurance Scheme is based on the SRP Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation, the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice. Employing best practices in rice farming can reduce water use by some 20% and methane emissions from flooded rice fields by up to 50%, says UNEP.

The scheme will be managed by Germany-based GLOBALG.A.P., which will oversee approval of qualified verification bodies that will be responsible for inspection of producers according to the SRP Standard.

“SRP was established to address global environmental and social challenges in rice production. The Assurance Scheme offers supply chain actors a robust, cost-effective and transparent path to sustainable procurement,” said Wyn Ellis, SRP Executive Director, in the statement.

With the new label, consumers will be able to trace the rice back to its origin country. By stocking SRP-verified rice, retailers can also make significant and measurable contributions to sustainability commitments and climate change targets.

Farmers also benefit: switching to SRP practices can boost farmers’ net incomes by 10-20%. With 90% of the world’s 144 million rice producers living on or near the poverty line, this can make the difference between a secure livelihood and a family going hungry, says UNEP.

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