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Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

920920

The number of varieties of rice that Dr Debal Deb, a pioneering ecologist committed to working with traditional farmers in eastern India to conserve indigenous seed diversity has managed to save. This short film follows the construction of a new seed bank premises in Odisha, a venture that provides a potent symbol of Debal’s values.

Small-scale traditional farmers and their rich diversity of locally adapted seed varieties are being written out of the story of seed. They are the victims of an aggressive global lobbying effort, designed to convince a world terrified about food security that the corporatization of the global food system, involving transgenic seeds, is the only way to feed the world.

In Debal’s work there is no sense of the superiority of either science or traditional knowledge – the two are seen as mutually beneficial, a complementary pairing.

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The estimated percentage of seed varieties lost to the world over the last hundred years due to hybridisation, modern agricultural methods, and seed patents.

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10000000000001900000010C8B6EFA71On the 14th of May the European Council for Agriculture & Fisheries adopted a set of conclusions pertaining to organic farming and the organic sector in general within the EU.

This is a set of Conclusions that presents a political view of how the current organic production regulatory framework is functioning; how it could be made more effective and how it should evolve in the European Union. The conclusions also provide a focus for policy development in the future.

The document lists 25 points of application of the regulatory framework and development of the organic sector. I’ve listed a number of the conclusions that immediately stand out below, but you can read the complete document and download a copy of the PDF here

A Few Highlights

1. Organic production and the organic foodstuffs sector in the European Union is established as a sustainable farming and production system which fulfils a dual societal role by responding to an increasing consumer demand for organic products while also delivering public goods which contribute to the protection of the environment, animal welfare and rural development.

5. The Council in its Conclusions on the future of agricultural promotion policy encouraged the Commission to provide consumers with better access to information on the European production model and increase their level of familiarity with quality systems such as organic farming.

7. The use of GMOs is strictly prohibited in organic production.

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
CALLS ON THE MEMBER STATES AND THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,
in accordance with their respective competences, to:

13. Develop the organic farming sector at an ambitious level by reviewing the current legal framework, with a view to improving its usability while providing for a period of stability and certainty, and aiming at :
– further clarification and simplification;
– addressing the current outstanding issues requiring further development;
– clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term ‘organic’ for non Annex I products;
– providing guidance on the organic claims associated with the preparation of organic products in mass catering operations.

16. Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations. Explore proposals for the adoption of a rigorous, proportionate, cost-efficient control regime which should include the unambiguous allocation of responsibilities between the relevant control stakeholders and a harmonised sanction regime agreed at European level.

22. Encourage the promotion of the organic sector and increased consumption of organic produce.
Take action to harmonise and guarantee application of the EU logo as a very positive measure to increase the recognition and differentiation of organic products in the market; raise public awareness and promote its use through on-line information and specific campaigns.

25. Continue to recognise and encourage the innovative dynamism and potential of the organic sector and support relevant research and innovation, in particular within the framework of the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs).”

Standouts

While there are several notable points here two in particular really stand out as helpful: in point 13 the sentence “clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term ‘organic’ for non Annex I products”; and point 16:  “Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations”, show evidence of an awareness among politicians that the consumer-driven success of the organic sector hasn’t gone unnoticed in the boardrooms of the corporate food industries.  Type the sentence “corporate takeover of the organic foods market” into a search engine for example, and you’ll see why this level of awareness is so important.

To understand more about this relatively new aspect of the situation in the US and the seek and destroy mentality of the agribusiness and biotechnology giants follow this link: http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/

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This short documentary is all the more chilling because of its grounded approach and total lack of drama or theatre.

With European governments under fierce pressure to relax restrictions on the development and propagation of GM crops British farmer Michael Hart travels to the US and talks to a number of farmers who have experienced at first hand exactly what it means to be trapped in The World According to Monsanto. As you’d expect from such men there’s little or no philosophising or pontification, just the straight facts from direct experience.

Those interviewed are not rebels or idealists, or even organic farmers. In most cases they are simply farmers who bought into the Monsanto system because they thought that it was the right thing to do. Several years down the line they find themselves disappointed, worried, or downright appalled at the consequences, but powerless to find a way back.

This is a cool, pragmatic look at a potentially disastrous future for growers and consumers in Europe and around the world should the GM lobbyists be allowed to get away with what they’ve seemingly already accomplished in the US – the grand theft of our food.

Farmer to Farmer: The Truth About GM Crops from Pete Speller on Vimeo.

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