Knudsen, Marie Trydeman; Almeida, Gustavo Fonseca de; Langer, Vibeke; Abreu, Lucimar Santiago de and Halberg, Niels (2011) Environmental assessment of organic juice imported to Denmark: a case study on oranges (Citrus sinensis) from Brazil. Organic Agriculture, 1 ( 3), 167-185.
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Growing global trade with organic products has given rise to a debate on the environmental impacts during both production and transport. Environmental hotspots of organic orange juice produced by smallholders in Brazil, processed and imported to Denmark were identified in a case study using a life cycle approach. Furthermore, small-scale organic orange production was compared with small-scale conventional and large-scale organic orange production in the case study area in Brazil.
Transport was the main contributor (57%) to the global warming potential of organic orange juice from small-scale farmers imported to Denmark, followed by the processing stage (29%), especially the truck transport of fresh oranges in Brazil and of reconstituted orange juice in Europe. Non-renewable energy use per hectare was significantly lower on the organic small-scale farms than on the conventional, with a similar, although not significantly lower, pattern for global warming potential and eutrophication. Including soil carbon sequestration in organic plantations widened the difference in global warming potential between organic and conventional. Organic small-scale farms had a higher crop diversity than conventional, which may have a positive effect on biodiversity along with the spontaneous vegetation between the organic orange trees and the absence of toxic pesticides. Comparing small-scale with large-scale organic orange production, crop diversity was higher on the small-scale farms, while global warming potential, eutrophication potential and the use of copper per hectare were significantly lower, indicating that environmental impacts from small-scale differ from large-scale organic farms.
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