In alphabetical order
First, I would like to mention what organic integrity entails. The hallmark of organic integrity is underlined in the principles, processes and methods of production considered to be non-toxic, holistic, and ecological and guided by the spirit and substance of organic standards. Against this understanding, domination by big industry players in the production and supply of chemical fertilizer, pesticides and seed cause the greatest threat. Underlying production of these agricultural inputs the corporates have firm control of the research and development activities including genetic engineering (GE) and genetically modified organism (GMOs), markets and governments thereby maintaining monopoly. This situation leads to watering down of inclusive and legitimate decision making and organic standards, and inputs being pushed to farmers with little regard to their own interest. Such manipulators resort to quick-fixes and sustained selfish gains rather than promote organic farming for the present and future generations in sustainable ways.2Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?
YES. It’s about mainstreaming organic farming into production systems as one of the best ways of solving many challenges facing planet earth. Organic 3.0 is the phase of organic agriculture where the proponents are pushing for a paradigm shift towards change in culture and values propelled by institutional and strategic reforms to galvanize development and promotion of truly sustainable farming systems and markets guided by organic principles (of health, ecology, fairness and care) and driven by levers of innovativeness, continuous improvement towards best practice based on local contexts, transparency, integrity, inclusiveness, collaboration, holistic systems and true value pricing. Organic 3.0 places greater focus on the interconnectedness and interdependencies among actors (producers, consumers, regulators, industry, etc.), the ethical and human value systems, environment and practices of production and processing.
What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?IFOAM needs to proactively engage with initiatives at different levels (regional and global) that share largely similar values. For example, in Africa IFOAM could strengthen its partnership with the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative and reach out to new countries. IFOAM is strategically placed to engage this lever given that it is a member of the EOA Continental Steering Committee. Such a strategy should be adopted in other regions of the globe where IFOAM has networks and associations. Evidence-based decision making processes are very key to any enterprise. The latitude for research in organic agriculture has been quite limited, thereby limiting participation of proponents of organic agriculture in research agenda setting. IFOAM needs to work more closely and proactively with relevant research institutions around the world. Currently, I find IFOAM’s participation in influencing research agenda beyond Europe being limited. IFOAM needs to work on operationalizing the concepts of Organic 3.0. The philosophy of organic agriculture is clear but what is weak is the broadening of the organic enterprise within national agriculture strategies. In some countries, organic agriculture suffers from weak differentiation from conventional agriculture. There is a limited understanding and practice of organic agriculture, and especially when it is tied to certification and standards and premium market price. This concept is largely considered ‘western’ and not a way of life for ordinary people. The perception needs to be changed.
One important factor that affects the viability and expansion of organic agriculture is the limited markets for organic inputs. Organic inputs are important in building soil organic matter and improving physical and biochemical properties of soil. While it is widely agreed that agricultural development requires major investments in infrastructure, the focus on fertilizer supply chain investments is an expensive way to boost agriculture in Africa and other parts of the world beside the negative effects of the chemical-based inputs. What options do we have for agriculture inputs to fast-track conversion to organic agriculture and growth of the sector? IFOAM could assess how this question can be addressed beyond the reassessment of seed breeding methods. By working with a network of partners to lobby governments and important policy bodies, civil society organizations (CSOs) and farmers as well, showing the importance of Organic Agriculture, its proven benefit (economic, mitigating effects of climate change, health benefits, etc.), will we allow for the expansion of organic agriculture as the alternative practice for farmers throughout the world. Currently, there is little commitment (or: little political pressure or incentive) of national governments to support organic agriculture. I believe IFOAM can work on strategies and lessons learnt to support national movements (National Organic Movements) and other actors of organic agriculture to influence processes of mainstreaming organic agriculture in national policies, plans and programmes.
2. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?
YES. For a reason that we are operating in a dynamic environment where technology is evolving and we have to be careful with what we promote. IFOAM needs to continue to reassess and reevaluate seed breeding methods to ensure;
3. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done. Do you think this is necessary? If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?
YES, it’s necessary. The war for organic farming is being lost due to the money being poured by the multinationals to compromise its ardent advocators. It is important that members assess how its organization has utilized its resources in a given reporting period. However, the assessment should not be limited to financial reporting alone but also to the achievements/results, to show value for money. I don’t think it’s a good idea to publish salaries of the top 5 earners (why to discriminate staff on the basis of salary scale?). Staff salaries offered by IFOAM should be guided by HR policies and procedures including instruments of salary scales approved by the General Assembly. The financial report will include a report on aggregate earnings of all staff.
4. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.
YES. Most definitions of sustainability point to the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. In Environmental Science sustainability is the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance: All the definitions of sustainability have one thing in common: they emphasize multidimensional (economic, environmental and social) aspects of sustainable agricultural development; with focus human, animal, plant and animal health (4-H). Various methods and strategies are being applied to assess sustainability. IFOAM needs to be clear on what dimensions should be considered in examining organic systems compared to other systems. In my view the concept of sustainability must be central to discussions about the challenges facing global agriculture, given the mounting pressure to increase food production in both socially responsible and environmentally friendly ways. With the rapid increase in population while land remaining constant, and adverse effects of climate change, there is need to focus on sustainability in managing agricultural outputs if we shall be able to feed the growing population while at the same time maintaining a healthy 4-H environment. Food still remains the most basic human need; and for food security and sustainability in the coming decades, policies and programmes must be put in place to ensure reliable supply of healthy food for both humans and animals, while ensuring proper environmental stewardship.A task force to measure sustainability would ensure that focus is made to include the 4-Hs: plant, animal, human and environmental health. In this regard, guidelines set up by the task force will ensure that global food supply must grow sustainably within the context of increasing competition for natural resources, particularly land and water, competition between food, feed and biofuel, and by the need to operate in a carbon-constrained economy.
5. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?
YES. Invertebrates, and especially insects, have become quite popular as alternative source of good protein. Various programmes in Africa are currently promoting the breeding of insects as a source of food for both humans and animals, and with tremendous market potential. Most invertebrates are also naturally occurring and reared using traditional methods. It may therefore be necessary to develop organic standards for mass rearing of the invertebrates. IFOAM can collaborate with international research organizations doing research in this area. One excellent example is the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi, Kenya, that has partnered with various institutions globally to embark on various researches on insects for food and feed.
6. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?
YES. This would be consistent with the spirit and value of Organic 3.0. Organic agriculture benefits farmers and the whole society, and goes well beyond the market place. Moreover, this will provide important data for demonstrating status, potential and growth of organic agriculture. This would show the potential for work on organic certification, and point areas of emphasis around the globe. In many countries there are many small-scale producers who could be protected by a provision allowing them to market as organic without being certified and their aggregates can be quite substantial.
7. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers’ markets? YES.
Studying social and economic development aspects of farmers’ markets would generate a deeper understanding of how to make markets work for organic products amidst various challenges. The capacity of agriculture over time to contribute to overall welfare by providing sufficient food and other goods and services in ways that are economically efficient and profitable, socially responsible, while also improving environmental quality- is something that should be studied, and the role of the farmer markets to achieve this can be a focus. It is therefore paramount that these aspects are well understood to inform relevant interventions of strengthening the power of farmers to produce, aggregate, be competitive and get value for their produce and how to make markets work for organic farmers.
8. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups? YES.
I think it may be necessary, and if at all we’ve had feedback from grower groups or other actors along the value chain. Remaining faithful to the Organic label is important, especially if the focus is on markets and value for produce. This is because consumers in such markets would be supportive of the spirit as well as the substance of organic standards. More importantly, the standards should mean more than just the mere label. The label epitomizes a broader “green” food system with social justice, environmental protection, fair trade, ethical behavior and healthy nutritious food free of pesticides and other toxic synthetics. Thus reviewing and updating the IFOAM standards for ICS for the grower groups would be prudent.
9. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability? NO
IFOAM should prepare a position paper on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and the place of sustainability. It should also support more empirical work in support of sustainability and publish findings. Again without evidence of what has worked and implications, it is very easy to be vulnerable to attack and criticism, some claims being advanced that our work neglects science and contrary to the truth.
10. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?
YES, it is necessary and consistent with our paradigm shift towards promoting Organic 3.0. If we don’t, then the gains made so far in organic agriculture will be wiped away by the increasing domination by the large corporate players who control the fertilizer, seed and pesticide industry and the underlying research. The benefits of Organic agriculture and the need to develop and expand the sector cannot be over-emphasized. We can achieve this through various ways including:
10. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?
I have no good reason to have its head office change.
11. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?
YES It is important to raise awareness on the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate. Glyphosate is readily available to farmers, and most of the farmers use it without regard to its harmful effects to humans, soil macro fauna, animals, fish and plants.
12. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?
YES. IFOAM can be effective in doing this by:
13. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?
IFOAM gets resources from its member organizations and actively seeks resources from various partners. The allocation of its resources should therefore be based on clear considerations, namely:
14.What is your primary source of income? – Salary
15. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?
I work as a coordinator of a continental initiative supporting organic agriculture, named Ecological Organic Agriculture. My organization also runs a farmer communication programme that prints monthly magazine of The Organic Farmer, keeps a rich database of online library (infonet) which contains information human, plant, animal and environmental health, runs an Organic Farmer Radio programme, among other pathways of communication.
*Note that WB members support WB decisions irrespective of their personal opinion.
What I would call “industrial organic agriculture”, the large scale monoculture organic agriculture that uses minimal input substitution to satisfy certification requirements. This is not sustainable and focuses only on economic objectives, at the expense of environmental and especially social aspects.
I was very pleased to read the Organic 3.0 document which is very much aligned with the IPES-Food report “From uniformity to Diversity” of which I am the lead author.
Yes. More than the breeding methods per se, it is the exploitation of the intellectual property linked to the breeding method as well as the associated promotion of “silver bullet” varieties that represent a threat.
I am not sufficiently familiar with the current practices of IFOAM to have an informed opinion on this.
There are several teams in different countries working on indicators for sustainable food systems. There will be a need to bring these efforts together and try to seek agreement on a meaningful set of indicators to assess all dimensions (economic, environmental, nutrition/health, social and cultural) of sustainability. IFOAM could play an important role in ensuring that this happens. I do not know whether a task force should be set up to achieve this objective. This should be discussed by the GA and the Board.
Yes, invertebrates are likely to become a more important source of protein in the future.
I agree this would be useful. However, as I don’t have an idea of what this would require in terms budget and time, I do not have an opinion on the priority to be given to this proposal.
I strongly believe that the social dimension of the organic movement is very important and should receive sufficient attention. The proposed study would be looking at one particular aspect of that.
I am not sufficiently familiar with the overall priorities to have an informed opinion.
Yes, false claims of sustainability represent a significant threat which must be confronted.
I believe that agriculture should become “sustainable” in all its dimensions (economic, environmental, nutrition/health, social and cultural) everywhere, whether through certified organic farming or other means.
I am not aware of the arguments in favour of a move of the head office. I therefore do not have an opinion.
Yes. The lobby pushing for the maintenance of glyphosate in the market has to be countered through all possible means.
If IFOAM has or obtains information to document this, it should use it to denounce these practices. There are other organizations which are active in this area, including IPES-Food through its recent report: ”Too big to feed”.
I need to study this more before I can give an informed opinion.
My retirement savings. I also am compensated for work I do as chair of the Sustainable food systems International Scientific Committee of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation and for the work I do as a member of IPES-Food as well as occasional work for the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.
I have not done (and have no plans to do) any consultancy related to organic agriculture.
greetings from Timbaktu !! At the outset I must say that I am very impressed by the list of questions that you have sent me. I see that you and the NOFA have been giving some serious thought to the issues that have been plaguing the organic world. I will definitely try and answer the questions. However, I must state that, if I am elected to the world board, I will be part of a team and not all my personal views will be or can be final. I must also state that I do not have answers to all the questions here. There are many things that I will have to learn as I go into them. So, of course, my present views may change, if and when I am convinced that I am wrong and that there are other ways to look at the concerned issues. I request you to please understand my answers from that point of view. So here goes –
The intensification of modern industrial agriculture is now one of the greatest threats to organic agriculture and biodiversity worldwide.
Yes I do support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM. As I understand, Organic 3.0 says that the organic movement is ready and keen to ally with and be seen as a partner of all those who share the vision of truly sustainable agriculture.The third part of your question is something that I cannot yet answer except that I expect IFOAM will do all it can to mainstream organic agriculture.
I believe this to be a very important contribution that IFOAM can and should make. Infact as far as I know this is one of the aspects of organic 3.0. Looking out for and promoting best practices, disseminating information, organising farmer to farmer contact, visits and exchange, building a body of knowledge, bringing the various players in organic together, unifying the organic practitioners, are some of the ways I can think of right now.
That I would think is the key. Getting producers and eaters together…..lobbying with the governments…….making it a UN subject…….
That is a huge question. I have lot to learn about IFOAM and how it works before I can even begin to answer that.
I would expect not just seed breeding methods but all protocols and methods to be re-assessed and re-evaluated from time to time. But this can only be a suggestion and the board must take a call on this. S
I do believe in total transparency, that is the way I have worked over the past 40 years. However, every organisation has certain compulsions and unless I have a clear understanding of what compulsions IFOAM works with and how things are run, I am unable to give blanket answers to what you ask.
Sustainability is one of the most vague or should I say broad terms I know off. There are so many different definitions to it and so many different perceptions. Of course I would like everything measured in life but the fact is not everything can be measured. Sustainability is an ideal and it should be treated as such. There will always be relativity in measuring such ideals. To me sustainable means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Now can this be measured? So yes we could set up a task force but I am not sure how they will be able to find a perfect way to measure sustainability.
I have no idea about this subject and will need to learn more before making any comment on this.
If possible, yes it will be valuable to organic 3.0
Like I said earlier, all protocols and methods need to be re-assessed and re-evaluated from time to time.
I will need to go into this more deeply to be able answer this question.
I do believe that the organic movement should expand. However, I also believe that there is a lot of agriculture, especially that which is done by small holder families and peasants in the south, is by default organic. Its just that they are not under the purview of organic certification and so we really do not know how much organic agricultural is being practised through out the world.
I guess that IFOAM will decide this matter depending on its needs and compulsions. One has to look at all aspects of its work before such a decision can be taken.
Absolutely. We have been doing that in India.
Absolutely. We have been doing that in India. But I have no idea as yet how IFOAM can do it unless I understand the organisation better.
Woah!! This is a loaded question to a person who has no idea of how IFOAM’s resources are apportioned. However, I think both participatory guarantee system is very important and so is developing and promoting local markets along with support to small holder farmers and peasants. How funds will be allocated and to what, I will be able to look into only when I become a board member and am able to understand how things work.
I am an organic farmer and a social worker. My primary source of income though is social work through my organisation – The Timbaktu Collective – http://www.timbaktu.org.
No I do not but I do give free advice whenever I can.:-)
Although historically the regulation of organic farming has mostly been a necessary evolution for the organic movement in order to grow supply and give confidence to consumers, the allowance of practices in organic regulation that do not reflect organic principles, are a mounting threat. This is because the regulators are often not those with organic knowledge or an understanding of the aims of organic food and farming. For example in the EU regulation only through assiduous engagement and lobbying are we fighting the following threats: hydroponics and the growing in ‘temporary substrates’, the allowance for pigs and poultry to not have access to pasture; the use of critically important antibiotics in livestock production; and the reductionist approach to inputs and inappropriate levels of residue testing which would be over-burdensome on organic producers. Allowing any of these will embed practices in organic regulation which are against consumer expectations and organic principles.
Yes, I do support Organic 3.0 which I understand as IFOAM OI reaching outwards to enable change on a large scale at this critical time for our planet. This can only be achieved by dismantling barriers and working with like-minded organisations – which yes, does include non-organic business and actors – with whom we can reach thousands of farmers around the world to change their practices. IFOAM OI describes this as the organisation becoming a ‘change agent’ which I applaud and if I am elected to the World Board I will use my network to build connections with farming organisations to embed organic practices into mainstream farming.
Yes, the technologies are changing all the time and we need to keep up with the ever-increasing complexity of seed breeding methods to keep out genetic engineering from organic farming.
I think the idea to assess affiliates on a broader basis other than organic turnover seems right and I support the idea to have a tiered membership which would encourage a more diverse membership.I don’t think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top five earners in IFOAM staff. I think this will serve no positive outcome. The focus should be on the output of those staff not what they are paid.
As far as I can see, there is no suggestion of a task force being established to measure sustainability. If this question is in relation to Motion 62 FiBL is offering “to support the development of this guide and provide the work that has already been done” which I think is very sensible. Organic standards (or norms) are frequently assessed incorrectly for their contribution to sustainability as they don’t explicitly mention sustainability outcomes such as carbon storage. To us in the organic movement, the maintenance of a healthy, humus-rich soil is an integral part of the success of our systems and will store more carbon than a frequently-cropped, non-manured soil under intensive non-organic production. So being able to explicitly articulate the benefits of organic systems I can only see as a good thing.
Yes. When sustainability of protein sources is more questionable as pressure on land increases, then making use of invertebrates as a source of protein feed fits with organic principles. And, if the organic movement doesn’t define good practice in the production of invertebrates and thereby allow organic farmers to use the by-products then we will miss out on a sustainable and important feed source for some of our organic livestock (pigs, poultry and aquaculture species).
I think the motion is more complex than this question suggests, wishing to embrace the efforts and benefits of non-certified organic producers worldwide. However, I think this will be a highly challenging task and I would want to know the methodology of assessing whether an enterprise is organic without complying to standards. I think this is not a priority issue for IFOAM OI at present.
Yes, if the knowledge is used to increase consumer understanding of the multiple benefits of buying organic produce from local markets.
I think it is probably a question of better training of internal auditors rather than a review of the ICS for grower groups. My experience is that the success of grower groups depends disproportionately on the commitment of the individual farmers concerned. I think if anything we should re-examine the documentation requirements and better understand how we can support grower groups to demonstrate compliance.
I don’t support Motion 70. Rather than treat false claims of sustainability as an affront to the organic movement, let’s work with those organisations who are trying to embed better sustainability practices with their farmers. We should be sharing our knowledge and decades of experience of better farming with these often relatively young sustainability schemes and improve the outcome for the planet.
This motion calls for a strategy to increase the area of organic agriculture. I believe this is exactly what Organic 3.0 lays the groundwork for and what the new IFOAM Strategy outlines. We need to form alliances, push boundaries, question outcomes and share organic knowledge.
I have no opinion on this. IFOAM staff will know best whether a move will improve its outputs and delivery of its goals. Apart from moving IFOAM’s sphere of influence, have the social and emotional costs of moving staff been considered?
Yes. But IFOAM must pick up on work already done on this by organisations such as the Soil Association and work together to publicise the negative effects on human and soil health.
Yes, but there are plenty of NGOs worldwide highlighting the unethical practices of Monsanto et al. We should work with them to increase knowledge of the effects of Monsanto’s policies.
I think the World Board must take its mandate from the General Assembly and the motions on these issues.
My salary working for the UK charity the Soil Association.
What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?
This question is hard to answer as formulated. Which definition of integrity do you mean?
the state of being whole and undivided, or the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
I will answer once I have that information….
This is key to success. It will bring OA very close or at par with agroecology and its principles. IFOAM will by going to OA 3.0 be more integrated and holistic, something that was lacking in the past, and I guess also partly responsible for some of the criticism re its sustainability in all three sustainable development dimensions.
By being a networking organization, linking the right institutions and users for research, training and extension activities that reach across the (organic) food system.
That should be a major area of activities, given that the public is now part of shaping the development agenda in the SDG framework
Get into the SDG policy development process – that is where key decisions are being made now. The other area are the main development partners such as the UN, World Bank and Regional Development banks, and major Foundations. Activities in these circles are the best investments that can be made to inform policies with evidence
I don’t think this is IFOAMs role, maybe that some of its members can do this
Transparency is always very healthy and makes for a very good working atmosphere. At MI (Millennium Institute) salaries are known to all….as well as in my Biovision Foundation.
On the IFOAM program coverage, information should be available, its easy these days with websites.
What is the rationale behind this idea? The term sustainability needs to be defined first in term of food production, consumption, the food system. There are initiatives under way already. I would rather work at looking how can OA be close to agroecology, a comparison of these two approaches seems to be more relevant to me at this time.
I would wait a bit until there is really a market developing. One could then also say the same for synthetic meat, plant based meat I guess…..
I don’t think this is a priority. Also what would the criteria be?
Yes, I do fully support this. It will provide the necessary information and action needs to make OA what it needs to be, also an organization that is socially aware.
I am not informed enough yet to answer this question
The best way to deal with this is to pull together research data and publish these in peer reviewed journals, then one can reach the wider public with good data backing up the claims.
Yes, OA needs to go to scale, the present acreage is far from what it should be after all the years it’s been promoted. We have now a unique chance to go to scale because we have the SDG framework, which implies that we need sustainable ag and food systems to reach the targets in almost all goals, and then we have the Paris Initiative on the 4 pour mille, which also implies to use OA and agro ecological practices to get the C into the ground. Therefore IFOAM need to be very active on these two fronts….its already doing a good job, but now it also needs to provide support to the local communities to help with policy development
I have no thought about that yet….would have to listen to the arguments and analyse the reasons, pro and cons….benefits and costs
Yes, this is the single most important issue right now, somehow leading the way for other products to be taken under the magnifying glass. Here some coordination with other organization may be welcome and lead to synergies and faster ban…..but just as important are a total ban on the neonics because of the bee killing.
Yes, it’s important that IFOAM is working with other organizations on exposing the threat pesticides, GMOs, all synthetic products and the concentration of agri-biz companies represent for food security and health, via these products and also via policy influencing.
I would suggest that the allocations be made following a survey of the actual needs in the different countries. One size does not fit all…..
President and CEO of the Millennium Institute
The greatest threats to the OF are:
Partially, I do support Organic 3.0 to be the core of IFOAM. I believe that Organic 3.0 is a differentiation of an Organic Movement to a wider World Organic Organization by turning from niche to mainstream action and including likeminded movements. I think that the inclusive approach could be dangerous to the extent that it could be a slight switch of our core basics of OF and giving it up. I believe that IFOAM should strengthen its relationship with FAO and UNIDO.
There is no sole solution for an issue, some solutions fit, and some others do not. The key approach is to continuously improve practices at ecology, society, economy, culture and accountability levels. IFOAM International is organized at regional level, IFOAM-AgriBioMediteraneeno (as an example) could easily play an essential role to improve and share the know-how within farmers and operators of the Mediterranean basin in the whole value chain.
I consider that IFOAM could help in raising public awareness by preparing videos and documentation for members that are in contact with the public. In the other hand, social media could play a key role to reach public. This action should be done after a survey to identify the nature of the public to reach and also to know what are their interests in OF (consumer/farmer/seller/distributer/politician…)
I’m quite sure that an action to the top organization as FAO and UNIDO could have a snowball effect on countries’ politics in agriculture and rural sustainability.
Yes, sometimes with the inclusive approach we can end with tolerating high level of GMO’s percentage in organic food.
Yes, because how can IFOAM know if the members have more than 50kEuro/year and less. Beside, is there any evaluation of the R&D share of the member?
I do not think that this is a good idea to publish the salaries of the five top IFOAM staff. Gross salaries of the IFOAM staff is enough in my point of view.
Yes, it’s a research question that could be answered through ISOFAR. There is already a similar question about sustainability of soil fertility in EU research project. The results are astonishing.
It depends on the importance of the market. I’m not sure but the core producers could start a draft to be submitted to IFOAM-standards.
At this time no. what is the interest? If done, what IFOAM could do with it? This is an issue that could be discussed with FAO. I can raise another question: what is the impact of OF to reduce climate change impact?
I’m convinced that it’s becoming mandatory to study how to influence consumers to purchase organic products? What is the best approach to market an organic product depending on the social and the economic facts of the region/country?
No. IFOAM could respond to competing claims of sustainability by highlighting the strength of organic tractability (inspection and audit) and scientifically based impact of OF on sustainability in rural development.
Some answers are given in questions 5 and 10. The key action is the open market and the creation of an interactive map of organic product’s needs. It’s a kind of stock Exchange that could organize supply and demand and thus open chance for new organic areas to be certified.
All chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers among them glyphosate.
Monsanto is a name among others but the practices are the same for all. Better for IFOAM to highlight its ethical practices and standards rather than pointing groups.
I think that IFOAM should not rely on this kind of financial resources. Funding bodies have enough money to raise to climate chance adaptation that IFOAM should take in consideration. FAO, UNIDO, COP22, EU funds World Bank and others spend a lot of money for rural development. What are we waiting for to prove that IFOAM is a world organization for rural and sustainable development?
I would like to talk about challenges more than threats. I believe one of the biggest challenges the organic movement is currently facing is its fast expansion, opening the door to bad practices, and in some cases, fraud. This also brings the integration of big corporations that see in the organic sector a growing market. However, I believe all these challenges are part of the growing process of the organic movement and can be tackled and worked out.
I believe Organic 3.0 represents the new strategy of the organic sector and was developed by the organic movement. I see Organic 3.0 as a roadmap to further open the organic movement to the world and make it more accessible for all actors. There are many key points, like the involvement of young people, the recognition of agroecology and non-certified organic, the cooperation with like-minded movements, etc., that will help the organic sector to continue growing in a sustainable and more open way.
We have to tap into the energy and knowledge of our members. There are state of the art experts around the world that are part of the IFOAM family, and we should work on empowering those experts. IFOAM could work as a platform to connect the need for knowledge with those experts. This will not only strengthen the link between IFOAM and its members but also showcase the expertise of the organic sector.
We can see that public awareness is increasing worldwide, but still, a lot of work needs to be done, and it should be one of IFOAM’s primary goals. Currently, consumers are getting confused by the increasing offer of “eco-friendly” products. We need to produce more state of the art research to advocate organic practices with a solid foundation. Furthermore, from a social and economic sustainability point of view we should strengthen the principle that organic is for everybody, that it has no limit, and that it empowers farmers around the world, provides consumers with real food and goods, and creates a fair trade, building a more just economy.
Currently, many policies, intended to improve our environmental and social impact, are being developed in many regions and at the UN level. However, there is still a need for linking all these policies towards a common goal, a better future for all. We should work on this link, see them with a holistic approach. We need to work on creating awareness of the concept that our environment, our diet, our consumption, our social order are all interlinked, and as such, our policies should also be interlinked.
I believe we should always research the upcoming breeding technologies and methods to base our decisions on scientific facts in order to be able to advocate in favor or against. However, this should not put in danger our biodiversity heritage; we can’t allow corporations to own them, seeds and breeding methods belong to all of us. We should always promote research on the long-term effects and the social and environmental impacts that these methods could bring. The breeding methods and technologies that go against our organic principles shouldn’t be promoted.
I will always promote more transparency as a norm. However, I believe the publishing of the total expenses in salaries as it is currently being done it’s enough. If the membership decides that the top 5 salaries should be published, I would suggest that it should only be available for IFOAM members and not to the general public. We need to take into account that salaries around the world vary according to the country/region, and in many cases can’t be compared, and this could bring misunderstandings.
Definitely! I believe IFOAM should work on developing, or choosing from the already existing, a method to measure the different aspects of sustainability. This will not only bring more credibility to the sector but will also set an example for other labels and farming practices to imitate and show their real impact.
I believe that we should always try to expand and improve our norms. However, it should be based on the available resources.
Definitely! We should try to know how big the non-certified organic/agroecology sector is. I come from a region where these movements group a large number of farmers who believe in better farming, and we should work on integrating them into the organic family.
I believe farmers’ markets are a great trade tool for small organic farmers around the world and help develop local markets reaching new consumers. Farmers’ markets create a connection between the farmer and the consumer. In many developing countries, farmers’ markets help to build and strengthen the local organic market and increase consumers’ awareness.
I believe IFOAM has done an extensive work on the topic and a lot of resources are available. However, a discussion to update specific issues of the ICS should be encouraged. All forms of organization for small farmers and producers should be encouraged by IFOAM, and IFOAM should develop the needed tools when resources are available.
I believe IFOAM should focus on promoting organic farming and showing the potential it has. The organic movement should inspire others, cooperate, and be open to learn from each other. I believe that by giving a good example and showing the good results of organic practices, we are giving a stronger statement than by confronting.
The global IFOAM membership should develop a common strategy, much of the work has been done with Organic 3.0. IFOAM was born to expand and protect organic agriculture; we have to do both, now on a global scale.
I believe that Bonn is a strategical place for the head office as it is close to many other international organizations bringing more opportunities to advocate and create change. I understand that this motion refers mainly to reduce costs, and it’s a good reason, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Furthermore, IFOAM is a global organization that can be placed wherever in the world, wherever is more practical, and I believe Bonn is currently the best place.
I come from a region where the dangers of glyphosate are in front of you, and even the media is reporting on them. Therefore, I believe that more research needs to be done to show with facts the threat glyphosate represents. However, I don’t believe that IFOAM should be the main face behind this awareness campaign.
I believe we need to be clear where we stand and what we believe are bad practices and are contributing to the unsustainable development of the agriculture sector. As stated before, I come from a region where Monsanto has a big impact on the agricultural sector, and you can see the outcomes of its presence. However, I believe that IFOAM’s focus should be on empowering the organic sector and create the alternative to Monsanto.
This is a very tricky question as all of those topics are crucial. I believe that the development of alternative certification methods for smallholders and the development of local markets should be the priorities for the organic movement in order to reach some of the Organic 3.0 goals. However, we should continue working on the harmonization of organic norms in order to build a stronger sector. I believe that we should evaluate the resources available and distribute accordingly depending on the potential projects/campaigns IFOAM has planned for that period.
Currently, my only source of income if through my work at FiBL, working on the global organic survey, “The World of Organic Agriculture”, and the global survey on voluntary sustainability standards, “The State of Sustainable Markets”.
In many parts of the world a direct threat to supply chain integrity is GM contamination. But a broader threat is the risk to the blurring of lines between organic and other sustainable production systems. While supporting and encouraging like-minded systems we also need to ensure that organic is not lost in the long list of agricultural systems that are being touted to respond to climate change, production levels etc. We need to ensure best practice organic is seen as the ‘gold standard’ of these systems.
Yes- we need to keep learning so we can maintain the integrity of organic standards by understanding exactly what we are dealing with, with regard to seed breeding methods
Transparency is an important element in building trust, confidence and good governance. If it can be improved then it should be and this should cover all programs and projects. With regard to staff salaries, I think a disclosure of whole staffing budget is sufficient, not staff members individually. If there are concerns about salary scales and how salaries are determined then the system for this should be explained and the over all salary scale be made available.
Globally there are several activities like this already evolving. I believe we should be aiming to be involved in these initiatives. Partly because of resources, do we have the resources to do this ourselves? But also so that indicators that are important to the organic world and demonstrate the value of organic agriculture to broader sustainable development issues are included in the global/regional/national plans and monitoring systems.
Yes, coming from a part of the world where many countries have considerable land area that is managed under organic practice (traditional systems) and not certified tis would be valuable to convince policy makers that they should be investing in research that benefits most of their producers rather than the few that are farming non organically.
Yes – if we only focus on economic outcomes we are missing half the picture. Building social capital is essential to supporting change and to sustainability.
Yes – all IFOAM standards should be on a review schedule.
I think a positive approach is important, promoting organic, being clear about what it means is more productive than discrediting others claims.
I think it is throughout the world, there are different levels of commitment and understanding but there is not a continent without organic farmers. To expand further it is about empowering local farmers and movements to grow organics. I think this happens organically (sorry J ) but with more support – information tools, capacity building etc. it can occur at a greater rate. This is necessary if organics is to really make an impact on our big global issues like food and nutritional security.
I think any relocation should be based on a complete cost benefit analysis which includes things like access to development partners, policy makers etc.
Yes – it is so common in the Pacific, and I can only assume globally, and there is so little awareness. I have stopped by a school to stop a maintenance worker spraying within 2 meters of children eating their lunch, most farmers in the Pacific work in the field with flip flops- the exposure risk is enormous. At the same time we need to be able to provide alternatives to farmers, only then will be get the policy support we need from Agriculture departments etc.
Yes it is, this type of advocacy aligns with the principles of organics. I think the most effective way is to add our voice to the existing lobby, and where ever we can contribute evidence to support claims.
These are so linked and no doubt equivalence and certification is critical to many organic growers – but I believe that development of local markets and guarantee systems (PGS) are a real priority. SO many farmers will never move to exporting products and we can have real impact here, for many more farmers and for many more consumers. We need to feed ourselves safe healthy food first.
I work for a Pacific intergovernmental technical agency (Pacific Community)
Thank you for this opportunity to present my thoughts about IFOAM – Organics International and some of the motions presented at the upcoming General Assembly. IFOAM’s World Board policy is that when decisions are made, we speak as one group, regardless of personal opinions. As I answer the questions, you’ll see that I support World Board positions as posted in the IN ACTION publication. ~ Peggy Miars
At this time the greatest threats are acts of fraud and their coverage in the media which cause consumers to lose confidence in organic. As organic grows around the world, growers and processors want to join the market, and they either innocently or fraudulently cause non-organic products to enter the marketplace labeled as organic. The international organic industry has been working on this, from the U.S. Organic Trade Association task force to the Anti-Fraud Initiative international conference in Ukraine. We need to tell consumers that we are collaborating on a solution and that they can maintain trust in the organic label. Then we need to follow our words with action.
I support World Board Motion 53. Organic 3.0 has been a topic of discussion for the last three years, and it has drawn together people unlike other initiatives that I’ve witnessed. There are many features to Organic 3.0. The key takeaway for me is that Organic 3.0 brings organic out of a niche and into a collaborative environment with like-minded organizations to grow sustainable agriculture based on organic principles. IFOAM has already been engaging with other organizations and seeking partnerships with organizations that are not strictly organic.
IFOAM – Organics International should rely on and support regional Self-Organized Structures to help reach local markets where education and information can best be distributed. Sharing information at a local level increases trust within the marketplace. Printed materials and online resources, including webinars, are additional ways that IFOAM can distribute information to areas where it’s needed whether in established or developing countries.
IFOAM should be a leader in this area. As the global change agent for organic, IFOAM can use its influence through multipliers (e.g., members, media, bloggers, communicators) to reach the greatest audience with our messages. IFOAM’s communications department has already implemented campaigns, including social media, to raise awareness about organic as the solution to many of today’s social and environmental issues.
IFOAM has laid out our priorities in the new strategic plan which is based on three pillars: 1) supply (pull) 2) demand (push), and 3) policy and guarantee. By working equitably in all three areas, the organization can use its resources to influence sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption to grow organic acreage around the world.
I support World Board Motion 51, which addresses this topic. Because new breeding and genetic engineering techniques continue to be developed, this is an issue that is dynamic. The only way to stay up to date on the ever-changing issue is to continue to reassess and reevaluate the methods as they become known.
I support World Board Motion 54 which proposes a new way to assess member fees in order to simplify administration and to include more and diverse members. We need to take this different and innovative approach to increase the membership of IFOAM – Organics International, which has remained stagnant for the last 15 years.
While I believe that IFOAM already provides transparent financial information, I support Member Motion 76 which proposes increased financial transparency.
I do not support Member Motion 77 which proposes that the salaries of at least the top five paid employees be reported to the membership. This is not a common practice among NGOs or corporations and micromanages an area of responsibility of the Executive Director. The total amount for staff salaries is published, which the ED uses to determine individual salaries. In addition, the ED’s salary is determined by the World Board.
I support Member Motion 62 which suggests assessing sustainability standards. The guidelines that are proposed support Organic 3.0 by assessing other schemes to understand the impact of organic practices on sustainability.
I support Member Motion 64 which is supported by the IFOAM Standards Committee. I have witnessed increased interest in invertebrates in organic production either for human or livestock consumption. Since the marketplace is demanding this certification, I believe the time is right to develop standards for organic invertebrates.
I support Member Motion 67. We can tell from official certification databases how much certified organic production occurs around the world. However, much of organic agriculture is uncertified, and we have no way to know of organic’s global reach. This data is critical to have as we discuss and advocate for organic policies.
I support Member Motion 68. Organic agriculture is a solution for many of today’s social and environmental challenges. We have seen many studies about organic’s impact on the environment. Studying local organic farmers markets will help quantify organic’s impact on social issues as well.
While it is critical to have strong functioning internal control systems for grower groups, I do not support Member Motion 69. The motion maker stated that “the concept and practice of internal control systems has weakened in recent years, affecting its credibility.” Why have the concept and practice weakened? Rather than updating the IFOAM standards, perhaps reinvigorating communications and advocacy strategies might make a difference.
I believe that IFOAM should take a proactive approach in communicating the benefits of organic rather than trying to take on the various sustainability standards that are identified as false. Rather than focusing on what we disagree with and don’t like, we should be leaders in inclusivity as espoused in Organic 3.0. Instead of using scare tactics, let’s tell the world about how truly sustainable organic is (e.g., better carbon sequestration, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, better water quality, better quality of life for farmworkers).
I support this motion which is in line with IFOAM’s new strategic plan. The motion urges IFOAM – Organics International to take a more active role in promoting organic. The new strategic plan includes promotion of organic agriculture in terms of production (supply/push) and consumption (demand/pull).
I do not support Member Motion 78. There are numerous financial benefits to retaining the head office in Bonn. I also suspect that all or many of IFOAM’s long-time dedicated staff would not move to Asia which would create a significant knowledge drain from the organization. IFOAM Organics Asia is a strong force and can continue to serve as the face of IFOAM on that continent.
I support Member Motion 79. Glyphosate has long been known as a contaminant negatively affecting human health and the environment. I support the purpose of the motion to bring to the attention of the world community the gravity of the problem of glyphosate contamination, to increase the support for organic agriculture and to discourage laws or rules which set unattainable low levels for glyphosate in organic products. This is a concern around the world, and I believe that we can recruit the best minds and sufficient funding for this project.
I support Member Motion 80. IFOAM – Organics International must stand up for the rights of organic farmers. Using Organic 3.0, we can partner with other international organizations outside of organic (with similar principles and ideals as IFOAM) to influence decision makers.
I think that all of these areas are important. Organic certification and harmonization of standards is an area in which IFOAM used to lead the world. However, as equivalency arrangements are becoming more common, this is perhaps an area in which IFOAM – Organics International should work with regional Self-Organized Structures. We saw IFOAM EU take the lead as a strong participant in revising the EU standards.
Participatory guarantee systems may seem a world away to those of us in developed countries with strong government-led certification programs. However, hundreds of thousands of farmers grow organic crops using PGS. It seems that IFOAM is a natural leader in this area and can work with governments to increase their understanding and support where needed. We need to understand the breadth of non-certified organic agriculture to truly understand organic’s impact. To do that, we need to continue to focus on and support PGS.
IFOAM’s new strategic plan includes strategies for developing and supporting local markets for organic products. When someone asks if organic can feed the world, my answer is that organic farmers around the world can feed the world. It’s not a matter of lack of production. Rather, it’s a matter of getting organic food to where it’s needed. We can do that through local markets.
My paid position as Executive Director/CEO of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), a non-governmental organization
I believe that the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time is the genetic contamination by GM crops. Canola’s pollen can travel up to 2km. It means organic agriculture is impossible within 2km diameter from GM canola farm. BT corn also has same problems. More and more genetically modified crops are being approved by many governments. The genetic contamination is the greatest threat to not only organic integrity, but also to whole ecosystem of the planet.
Organic 3.0 is to broaden the truly sustainable agriculture (food system) which is Ecologically sound, Economically viable, Socially just, Culturally diverse and transparently accountable.
IFOAM will work not only for Organic standard, but for providing solutions to the global issues, hunger, inequity, climate change, pollution, etc. in order to achieve truly sustainable society and environment on the planet.
agriculture, processing and marketing.
Yes. GMOs and synthetic biology have been already and going to be great threat to seed breeding and farmers who grow their own seeds. Seed is the issue of future.
Yes, Transparency is one of the most important factors for fairness and democracy of the organization. However, it seems to be quite sensitive issue to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners. Wouldn’t it be the cause of negative reaction?
Yes. The term Sustainability has become very common now. But it seems that most people who use this term often do not have concrete images or clear understanding on what true sustainability is. Setting up a task force is meaningful and step forwards.
Yes. The standard for the invertebrates productions can improve the situation of water pollution and environmental problems especially in coastal area.
Yes. It would be valuable for understanding real status of organic movement in the world. I am also a non-certified organic farmer.
Yes. It can prove the potentials of farmers markets.
Yes. It is needed to update the IFOAM standards along with Organic3.0.
No. It is not wise to deal with those claims by confrontation, it often causes negative reactions. Better to approach them with suggestions and recommendation in order to be more truly sustainable agricultural practices.
Yes. It is not easy task and there is no instant answer. The importance is to increase committed people who understand deeply truly sustainable agriculture and choose it as the way of life. I have been involved in educating young people for truly sustainable agriculture and livelihood not only concept but also practices.
No, I don’t think so.
Yes. Almost of all home improvement centers in Japan have been campaigning Roundup (glyphosate) intensively. Because most people don’t know how bad it is.
Yes. IFOAM can make a clear statement about what the unethical practices are and reasons why against them in web. IFOAM can be a member of alliances that are against the unethical practices.
I have no idea about it. I don’t know much about the present situation of IFOAM’s resources and regulations.
Yes. I have some consulting work both voluntary and paid.
Edith van Walsum
The greatest threat would be that we miss out on the greatest opportunity of this time. Our opportunity is that organic agriculture is coming out of its niche and becoming a robust and respected mainstream option. Organic 3.0 is a new vision of OA that drives this transformative perspective. It is a way to achieve the SDGs. This is the moment to push for an inclusive – organic – sustainable – agroecological – climate resilient way of strengthening our global food system as a strong alternative to modern industrial agriculture. Our major threat is that organic agriculture will get co-opted into the dominant agricultural paradigm, with its compartmentalized view. Different movements may get divided and coopted by the powers behind conventional agriculture. Diluted versions of organic agriculture will address the symptoms, not the cause of problems. People will get increasingly disconnected from their food and agricultures. Young people see no future in agriculture and are disconnected from their origins. Mainstreaming organic agriculture carries the risk of away-streaming. Most critical is the risk of increasing privatization and consolidation of land and other resources in the hands of a few major international companies. As organic movement we can address this challenge, with other major movements, by being firmly rooted in values and principles of fairness, economic justice as well as biological and cultural diversity.
How do you understand Organic 3.0? Organic 3.0 is a comprehensive, holistic and inclusive perspective on organic agriculture. I see it as a new paradigm. It has to grow, and we have to grow with 3.0. It opens doors to other movements because of its inclusiveness.
What will IFOAM do different through engaging in Organic 3.0?IFOAM will be more open to other movements, less fixed on standards, the focus is on continuous learning and growth. Organic agriculture 3.0 is a way of life. It builds on and includes previous phases: 1.0 and 2.0.
Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? Yes. IFOAM will engage actively with other movements. It will move beyond organic agriculture towards a truly sustainable global food and agriculture system. Organic agriculture will be a pathway towards achieving the SDGs. For me personally, Organic 3.0 is a great step forward, it inspired me to be a candidate for the World Board.
YES. Seeds and breeds are crucial, their integrity needs the continuous attention of IFOAM. The new position paper on the Compatibility of Breeding Techniques in Organic Systems comes timely. As the motion states clearly, in addition to protecting itself, the organic sector has the opportunity to engage with the mainstream sector to develop better overall risk assessment protocols for regulating the public release of novel genomes. What in my view also needs IFOAM’s attention is the risk perception of people in the society at large, in different parts of the world. People’s fears and concerns need to be addressed. They need to become aware that another food system is possible and that they can be part of it. This would fit very well in the Organic 3.0 perspective.
At this moment I do not feel qualified to express an opinion about specific transparency and accountability issues in IFOAM. Of course I am in favour of transparency and accountability. But these are complex issues more so in a large global movement. From earlier experience I have learned to look at the balance between formal and informal ways of addressing accountability issues. When we look at accountability and transparency we tend to think in terms of formal rules and procedures, but informal norms and values can also play an important role and deserve to be recognized. Building and reinforcing a culture of transparency and accountability consists of a mix of formal procedures and informal norms and values.
I do not see the logic of a task force to consider how to measure sustainability. There is already extensive experience in measuring sustainability among organic farmers and researchers. Organic 3.0. acknowledges and embraces variety in the ways farmers practice agriculture all over the world. Measuring sustainability can happen in different ways. Setting up a task force sounds almost like a military operation. Given the enormous variety in the ways people farm, I would suggest to observe and systematize the criteria for sustainability assessment (quantitative and qualitative) being used by organic farmers (certified and non-certified) and the people working with them (field-oriented scientists, extension workers, ..) Systematising diverse farming experiences will yield rich insights. This approach to measuring sustainability would fit very well in Organic 3.0. It does justice to cultural and biological diversity; it builds on a continuous learning and innovation process, it creates spaces for farmers, small and large scale, women and men, to share their experiences, it fosters inclusive thinking.
The rationale for this, presented in Motion M 64, sounds logical: Invertebrates play a key role in food chains. Their advantages include an efficient feed-product conversion rate, the ability to feed on waste products, and the production of high quality proteins. However, currently there is uncertainty on whether their production is possible or not under organic standards, due to the absence of specific requirements. Personally, I prefer to eat bean sprouts rather than insects; their nutritional value is almost the same.
7..Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?
Yes, the area of noncertified is much larger and it is important to compare both types of land: farm size and composition, organic matter content of the soil, proportionate research investments in certified vz noncertified land; productivity per ha. It is likely that noncertified organic producers face different challenges and constraints; from an inclusiveness point of view it is important to propose public policies that take such differences into consideration.
8. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?
Yes! Very important. Local organic markets are indeed central to the current growth of organic agriculture, especially in developing countries. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, professor Rural Sociology at Wageningen University, has done very interesting research work on the roles of farmers markets in local and regional development.
9. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?
I cannot say whether this is the right time to review and update of the IFOAM standards for ICS for grower groups.
10. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?
I agree with the recommendation by the WB. The bigger forces are dividing and ruling. The challenge is how to be inclusive but not naïve.
11. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?
There are various possible ways of planning expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Inclusive strategies would be most relevant and effective. Everybody is trying to find ways to scale up and mainstream. What if everybody joins hands? Much more can be done together. Some concrete opportunities in the coming year: the FAO symposium in April 2018 on scaling up agroecology to achieve the SDGs is a good moment to join hands and show that organic and agroecological approaches can achieve SDGs. Another opportunity is the decision of the CFS to publish a HLPE (High Level Panel of Experts) report on agroecology and other innovative approaches in 2019.
12. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?
The proposal sounds logical, while the World Board also has valid reasons to vote against this motion. An alternative strategy could be to work towards a more decentralized set-up with stronger regional offices.
13. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?
We need to find cheap mechanical ways to manage weeds or intercropping systems that suppress weeds. There is a lot of pressure on small scale farmers to find cheap ways of weeding as labour becomes scarce and more expensive. IFOAM needs to support that. We never know what chemicals do in the ecosystem. That glyphosate may cause cancer or make soybean more susceptible to fungal diseases might be a reason to create awareness on it, but the point is: any chemical with widespread use will have an unknown ecological impact. We need to support research into non chemical weed control.
14. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?
Invest in PGS and the development of local markets. This will benefit small-scale farming communities who have been neglected for a long time. Investing in these communities will show quick results, while it will have long-term impact at regional and national levels through achieving SDGs.
15. What is your primary source of income?
Since two months I am working on a voluntary basis as a senior advisor to the global AgriCultures Network (AN). Before that I worked fulltime as director of ILEIA, founding member of the AN. My primary source of income was the Swedish Government (Sida). We had to close down ILEIA due to unexpected shortfall of funds as a result of the refugee crisis.
16. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?
The wide scale marketing campaigns that are carried out by TV, newspapers, magazines and governments to showing how easy it is to increase production in a short time.
In my opinion, this matter needs further discussion so as to avoid any over lapping areas.
Yes, as scientific research keeps bringing forward more and more newer methods.
Yes. Same as transparency is part and parcel of a clean production method.
Yes. Sustainability thinking and sustainable methods vary from country to country and also within the same country, based on the local laws, climatic conditions and other financial & domestic situations that keep cropping up all the time.
Yes. The lobby from environmentalists and hobbyists will increase in due course.
7. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?
No not at present as it is first important to have an accurate forecast of what land area is organic as there are constant changes taking place due to the risks presented.
No. Many grower groups still find the previously updated Internal Control Systems confusing. What is needed is a clearer interpretation to the controlling bodies in the implementation of the ICS systems.
10. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?
No not agreed. IFOAM must take a firm stand on what is sustainable and what is not in keeping with the basics.
11. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?
Yes it is necessary as conditions and practices vary from country to country and also within the same country. The various IFOAM representatives worldwide must first check and indicate the lacking areas. Once this is done discussion panels must take over for implementation.
Yes. This would help to resolve question 11 too.
13. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?
Yes the sooner the better using all social media as available with organic giants contributing towards the costs.
14. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?
Yes, same as question 13.
15. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?
Firstly by carrying out constant assessment of the success and failure rates of the projects carried out previously on the apportioned IFOAM funds and other resources.
16. What is your primary source of income?
Consultancy in economically upgrading and uplifting tribal farmer projects via organic and forest garden production methods.
17. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?
Yes. Freelance work as mentioned above in question 17.
Dear Dave Chapman,
I am writing to explain why I will not be coming to Jacksonville to join the great effort to “Keep the Soil in Organic!”
Instead of traveling to Florida, I will be traveling first to Baltimore in September for the General Assembly of IFOAM NA, and then in November to New Delhi, India for the Organic World Congress and the General Assembly of IFOAM, Organics International.
I believe that our two efforts are complementary. It is urgent to try to keep the USDA organic label’s integrity, but it is also urgent to have a Plan B that is grounded in the full meaning of organic and contributes to maintaining and expanding family-scale farms as well as to the greater movement to transform our world.
As the NOFA representative to IFOAM NA, I have contributed to a Strategic Plan that will place top priority on spreading and deepening understanding of the Principles of Organic Agriculture and of Organic 3.0 in the US and Canada.
THE PRINCIPLE OF HEALTH
Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.
Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
Organic Agriculture should build on relationships
that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment
and life opportunities.
Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.
At the Organic World Congress, I will be speaking on community supported agriculture around the world, introducing and moderating a day-long workshop on CSA in Asia, and contributing to the Main Track on the challenges to realizing Organic 3.0 and Fairness for all.
The National Organic Program is a market-based approach to organic agriculture. Under the conditions of globalized, industrialized capitalism, the grassroots organic movement in this country has always been swimming against the stream with the risk of being swept up by commercial success – or swept away. Globally, organic farming is a way of life rather than a marketing angle, and organic farmers are allies of the peasant movements that represent the majority of food producers on the planet.
Organic 3.0 is the new stage of organic agriculture internationally, and follows 1.0 – Pioneering, and 2.0 – Legitimation and Codifying. 3.0 signifies: “Mainstreaming – organic agriculture is moving from a niche into an accepted set of solutions to the challenges of the sustainability of food and fiber production promoting organic food and farming systems as a modern and innovative approach based on organic principles. As distinct from current approach of certified organic agriculture, organic 3.0 does not enforce a set of minimum rules to achieve a final static result, but is outcome based and continuously adaptive to the local context. As a culture of continuous improvement through stakeholder driven initiatives for the transformation of farming systems towards higher levels of resilience, sustainability and systemic health, Organic 3.0 is motivated by innovation, transparency and inclusion, while remaining based on local priorities.”
We will have to be very creative in implementing this phase, though it is already underway. There are obvious pitfalls – the domination of the market by large corporate entities, temptations to cheat, rampant unbridled greed. And important attractions – this should be inspirational – a way to unite disparate efforts that currently compete for scarce resources and speak at cross-purposes, or do not even connect well at all. Agroecology, urban agriculture, food sovereignty, certified organic, biodynamic, regenerative organic, domestic fair trade, soil and health – we must all come together. The struggles of farm workers and other food chain workers, of Black Lives Matter and Cosecha for justice and equity must be our struggles too if we hope to realize our dreams of a world of peace, security, health and abundance for all.
For Peace in Our Lifetimes,
Entrevistador: Daniel López García
Libros en Acción ha publicado el pasado junio en formato e-book la primera traducción al castellano, actualizada y ampliada, del libro “Compartiendo la cosecha. Agricultura Apoyada por la Comunidad: una guía ciudadana”. El texto, publicado inicialmente en 1997, ha sido denominado “la biblia de la Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad”, y desvela con detalle, flexibilidad y una impresionante riqueza de experiencias, los principales debates prácticos y teóricos alrededor de la creación de este tipo de experiencias de relación directa entre producción y consumo. La ASC va mucho más allá de los grupos de consumo, y constituye un movimiento social que podría suponer más de 15000 experiencias en todo el Mundo.
Elizabeth Henderson, autora del libro, es agricultora ecológica desde hace más de 30 años, activista incansable por la sostenibilidad y la justicia alimentarias, y presidenta de honor de la Red Internacional Urgenci de Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad. Desde el Área de Agroecología de Ecologistas en Acción hemos tenido el gran placer de entrevistarla con ocasión de la publicación. Continue reading ““La Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad es uno de los ejemplos más extendidos de economía solidaria en acción:” Entrevista a Elizabeth Henderson, agricultora ecológica y autora del libro “Compartiendo la Cosecha” “
June 26 – July 1, 2017
Jack and I traveled to Cuba with Peter House and Michael Hannen, long-time friends in Rochester and members of Peacework CSA. Cultural Contrast, an agency that specializes in Cuban travel, organized our trip, a licensed “People-to-People” exchange (https://www.culturalcontrast.org/).
I have wanted to see Cuba for decades and decided to just go before I get too old to enjoy a visit to a nation that shares so many of my values. Six days, a mere glimpse, yet better than nothing. Long enough to confirm that the Cuban revolution has made good use of their scarce resources. Cuba was a poor colonized country to start with and constrained even more by the US economic blockade. There may be few new cars, inadequate internet and building exteriors in need of repair, but the streets are safe, healthcare and education from elementary school through graduate studies are free, every citizen receives a monthly ration of basic staples (rice, beans, sugar, coffee, cooking oil), and city governments are required to provide housing for everyone.
You see no beggars or homeless in Havana, though plenty of hustlers. And since the collapse of Soviet support, there has been a great flowering of organic farms, urban and rural, guided by permaculture and agroecology. That is what I was most curious to see and will write about here.
By Elizabeth Henderson
Alannah Kull and I attended this highly informative, though rather depressing, conference on farm labor issues in California. Despite decades of farm worker organizing, most of the housing is lamentable and wages have actually gone down. Farm workers have the right to organize and there is an Agriculture Labor Relations Board (ALRB). However, 100% of the orders it hands down are challenged in the courts (in contrast to 30% for the National LRB). You can find a full report with most of the presentations with their slides at https://gifford.ucdavis.edu/events/.
The first panel analyzed the different approaches to improving conditions for farm workers. Nathan Smith of SureHarvest reviewed FairTradeUSA, CIW’s Fair Food, the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) and Food Justice Certification (FJC), and noted that so far, the bottom up approaches are rarely self-sustaining and rely on foundation support. Referring to himself as a “capitalist pig,” Ernie Farley, one of the managers of Andrews and Williams, a large produce operation that is a founding participant in EFI, noted that this program is bringing about real cultural change. As proof, he says he now talks to people like Margaret Reeves of Pesticide Action Network and Eric Nicholson of United Farm Workers. Hector Lujan, representing Reuter Affiliated, the parent company of Driscoll’s, gave a glowing account of his company’s efforts to improve labor conditions, wages and housing, claiming that they offer the same standards in the many countries where they operate. Lujan’s main theme is an important one – “the economic model has to resolve things for everyone in the supply chain, including workers.” Continue reading ““Sustainability, Farm Labor, Immigration, ALRB, and Cannabis” – April 14, 2017 California Agriculture and Farm Labor Conference at UC Davis Law School”
By Elizabeth Henderson
Farmers who need to hire workers face a painful dilemma: revenues from farm products are too low to pay attractive wages, most local residents prefer cleaner, less physically demanding jobs, and many of the skilled farm workers are undocumented immigrants. Knowingly hiring an undocumented worker is a felony. As the new administration’s anti-immigrant policies unfold, pressure from farmers and farm organizations is increasing to expand the H-2A “Guestworker” program. Farmworker advocates question this program’s fairness to the workers from abroad and to the undocumented workers who make up 55 to 70 percent of current farm labor and who may lose their jobs to the imported workers. Farmers complain about the heavy paperwork burden involved in H-2A. Improving the guestworker program does not go to the source of the problem: the US cheap food system functions as long as there are sources of cheap labor. In a farming system worth sustaining, work as a professional farm worker will be a respected vocation that provides living wages with decent benefits.
But while we are transforming the cheap food system, we can at least reduce the injustices of the one farmers and farm workers must navigate in order to survive. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) proposal to reform the program identifies its major flaws:
“The so-called guestworker programs such as H-2A, and H-2B suffer from the same structural defect—they provide temporary workers to the companies that have been least successful in attracting a labor force. The visas are given to workers, but the visas are tied to specific businesses, which often use intermediaries to recruit, transport, and supervise the workers. The lack of portability of the visa inevitably leads to abuses by the intermediaries or employers—such as taking bribes, charging workers for equipment or transport, or demanding a portion of future earnings–since the workers fear retaliation if they complain. These heavily bureaucratic programs should be abandoned for an approach that gives the workers a portable work visa and allows the labor market to function.”
The NSAC proposal envisages creating North American Agricultural Work Visas (NAAV), “dual intent” visas that would allow guestworkers to change employers and to come and go across the border. The same freedom to cross the border legally should be instituted for the 11 million undocumented people in the US, including the million or more farm workers. Continue reading “Time to Replace H2A, the US “Guestworker” Program”
By Elizabeth Henderson
With the financial recovery looking more like the Great Recession, people are turning to the real goods and services of the earth economy. As stock prices rise and the top 1% bloats with wealth, for many in the 99% incomes are eroding and job security is a quaint concept from the past. A stream of books by Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Bill McKibben, Barbara Kingsolver, and others have put local food at the top of the best-seller list. And deeper, systemic analyses (Wayne Roberts’ No Nonsense Guide to World Food, Wenonah Hauter’s Foodopoly) are helping us understand why the hard times are failing to evaporate and how small local actions can add up to transformative change. Stressed families are eating out less and planting gardens. Small seed companies are experiencing double digit growth. The number of CSAs all over the country has tripled over the past ten years. Downsized bankers and PhDs are signing up with the spreading network of new farmer programs. And more people are turning to local farms for the ingredients essential to their newly recognized priorities of health and self-reliance.
The pundits tell us that local trumps organic and for many people a certified organic label from a farm 3,000 miles away does not provide the reassurance they seek. But will they be satisfied when they realize that the farms within 100 miles of home use toxic chemicals, underpay their workers, and can barely manage to stay in business? Maybe there is more that people need from farms than comforting proximity.
Becoming a locavore follows from a deeper change in consciousness. Going local provides many benefits at the same time.
* Your money is circulating in your own community: family-scale farms are independent businesses that tend to support other local businesses. Some corporation is not siphoning your dollars off to line its coffers or pay its stockholders.
* If ever there were “green” jobs, employment in local sustainable agriculture meets the definition.
* Economically viable farms preserve open space and beautiful working landscapes.
* And finally, eating local food saves energy. David Pimentel, Professor of Insect Ecology at Cornell University, has calculated that modern industrial agriculture expends 10 calories for each food-calorie produced. Many of those excess calories are burned up in transportation, packaging, and marketing. Continue reading “Local, Organic, And Fair: We Want the Whole Loaf!”
Keynote speech by Elizabeth Henderson at the Future Harvest CASA’s “Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed” conference, January 14, 2017
All the people of the land – farmers as well as farmworkers – have the human right to live in dignity and respect with a secure supply of the foods of their choice produced in harmony with the natural environment, and to live in a healthy, rich natural environment in a world in peace.
Greetings! It is an honor to be asked to share my thoughts on justice for farmers and how this relates to justice for farmworkers and workers in other kinds of food enterprises as well as people with low-incomes. I just attended the new farmer session. It is so exciting that there are 65 people in this program!
The promise of industrialized agriculture has been that it would feed the world with plentiful, inexpensive and safe food. That promise has not been kept. Food insecurity and food access are still heavy burdens– in your region, the Maryland Food Bank alone supplies 120,000 meals a day. In the Future Harvest states, over 19% of the children live in food insecure households and the figure reaches a shameful 30% in DC. Continue reading “Justice for Family-Scale Farmers and All Food Workers”