Title: Life cycle thinking and sustainable food production

Authors: Claudine Basset-Mens, Bruce Small, Upananda Herath Paragahawewa, Brigitte Langevin, Paula Blackett

Addresses: AgResearch Limited, Ruakura Research Centre, East Street, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand; CIRAD, UR Hortsys, Boulevard de la Lironde – TA B-103/PS4, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France. ' AgResearch Limited, Ruakura Research Centre, East Street, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand. ' AgResearch Limited, Ruakura Research Centre, East Street, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand. ' CEMAGREF, 361 rue Jean-Francois Breton, BP 5095, 34196 Montpellier Cedex 5, France. ' AgResearch Limited, Ruakura Research Centre, East Street, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand

Abstract: LCA is the evaluation of all environmental impacts of a function (product or service) on natural capital, human health and resource use. However, current sustainability definitions are considerably broader in both environmental and social aspects than is commonly treated in LCA. The egg of sustainability model which places ontological priority on the environment, then social systems, then economics, is perhaps the most appropriate to effectively address sustainability issues. However, in real-world examples, due to short-term reactions to economic and social pressures, environmental components are frequently given the lowest priority. If properly researched and developed, LCA could be an effective tool to identify practical ways to address sustainability issues in real-world food production. In particular, development of regionally specific indicators which have quantifiable levels of uncertainty, approximate reality and incorporate social and economic aspects would be important future progressions to enhance the contribution of LCA to sustainable food production.

Keywords: life cycle assessment; LCA; sustainability; conceptual framework; sustainable food production; state of the art; research priorities; sustainable development; environmental impact.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPLM.2009.031675

International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management, 2009 Vol.4 No.1/2/3, pp.252 - 269

Available online: 17 Feb 2010 *

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