Federal agriculture minister Tony Burke said the ‘food miles’ campaign, a European initiative urging shoppers not to buy Australian food because of the carbon footprint of long-distance transport are deceiving.
"The ‘food miles’ concept tricks people into thinking the most important contributor to a product’s carbon footprint is how far it travels to reach consumers," Mr Burke told the Outlook 2008 Agricultural and Resources Economics conference in Canberra.
"They do not take into account carbon emissions produced in food production and are nothing more than protectionism", he said.
"We have to take every opportunity to let people know and to let the consumers both in Australia and internationally know … food miles is a system deliberately designed to deceive," Mr Burke told reporters.
"It does not provide quality consumer information and trades on the fact that a lot of consumers, and good on them, want to make sure that they’re doing their bit in trying to reduce carbon emissions.
"The problem with food miles is it takes one corner of the whole equation and pretends it is the entire answer."
Mr Burke also warned against listening to "alarmist" claims by objectors to the live export trade, arguing Australia leads the world in terms of best practice.
"For every 100 sheep exported, 99 do make it to the other port safely, while 999 of every 1,000 cattle also arrive at their destination unharmed," he said.