Event will debunk 'eco-wisdom'

Some of the biggest thinkers in horticultural research will gather later this month at a conference that is expected to explode myths surrounding emotive issues of carbon footprints and food miles.

The conference, hosted by Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) and the HDC, aims to debunk much current and conventional eco-wisdom, said STC director Graham Ward. He said: "Issues of carbon footprinting and food miles are rather more emotional than scientific. We need to be clear about what is a realistic claim.

"We could do great damage to the sector. The carbon effect of getting into a car to buy tomatoes at Tesco is greater than growing them in glasshouses.

"If you look at whole-life carbon footprinting, it's not necessarily the behaviour of producers, but transport and where you shop."

The conference on 30 April, at Stockbridge, North Yorkshire, is called Science Today - Consumer Tomorrow and will look at whether carbon issues threaten business.

Ward added that the debate on topics like the Government's Five A Day initiative needed to be refined. Cabbage, for example, cooked for 30 minutes was not good for you at all. He said: "We all know fruit and vegetables are good for you. But how you cook or manage crops determines to some extent their nutritional value."

Other speakers at the conference will include Gareth Jones of Bangor University and HDC chairman Neil Bragg.

NFU horticultural board chairman Sarah Pettitt will speak on the Why Science Matters campaign and the University of Nottingham's Andy Taylor will look at new flavour assessments for tomatoes.

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