Increasingly efficient global transport networks make it practical to bring food before it spoils from distant places where labor costs are lower. He noted that Britain, for example, imports â€” and exports â€” 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. The European Union, the worldâ€™s leading food importer, has increased imports 20 percent in the last five years. The value of fresh fruit and vegetables imported by the United States, in second place, nearly doubled from 2000 to 2006. Under a little-known international treaty called the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago in 1944 to help the fledgling airline industry, fuel for international travel and transport of goods, including food, is exempt from taxes, unlike trucks, cars and buses. There is also no tax on fuel used by ocean freighters.
Source: Elizabeth Rosenthal, Environmental Cost of Shipping Groceries Around the World, nyt, April 26,2008t