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Australian Standard is ready for Public Comment

The draft Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products has been released and is available for public comment. Standards Australia released the draft Australian Standard for public comment on 21st July. Members of the public and interested parties are encouraged to review the documents and provide feedback to Standards Australia by 22 September 2008. Standards Australia is working towards publishing the Australian Standard by December 2008.

The Australian Standard has been an OFA initiative. We have been actively involved in its development.

A broadly based committee of key stakeholders has developed the draft Australian Standard. It stipulates requirements for the production, preparation, transportation, marketing and labelling of organic and biodynamic products. It places particular emphasis on farming and management practices that promote the use of renewable resources and conservation of soil, water and energy resources.

The draft Standard covers production from plants, animals and fungi (such as fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, mushroom and fibres), as well as processed products such as processed food, cosmetics and skincare products that are labelled ‘organic’.

The Standard is a very significant development because it will become the basis for the first Australian domestic regulations for organic food and products.

The Standard is designed to:
- Provide a consistent framework for the organic industry from the paddock to point of sale
- Set out minimum requirements for growing products that can be labelled as ‘organic’, ‘biodynamic’ or ‘in-conversion’
- Provide clear definitions about what is organic and what is not
- Protect consumers against unsubstantiated claims and misleading labelling
- Protect growers against misinterpretation and misleading use of organic agricultural practices and the term ‘organic’
- Provide a guide for farmers considering conversion to organic farming.

The Committee has also developed supporting reference material outlining the certification procedures for growers of organic and biodynamic products.

To read the draft Standard, visit the Standards Australia website at www.standards.org.au
and click on Drafts for Public Comment in the left hand menu

OFA attends the IFOAM World Congress and General Assembly

Over 1,700 experts, practitioners and producers from 108 countries met in Modena, Italy for the 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress. The program covered a wide range of topics including biodiversity, food safety, sowing, growing and harvesting techniques, market opportunities, verification methods, and technological innovations in organic. Many of the presentations were organised around the response and relevance of the organic industry to the major global issues of climate change and food security.

The previous World Congress on organic agriculture was held Adelaide in 2005. This year, three OFA directors, Dr Els Wynen, Tim Marshall and Andre Leu represented the OFA at the World Congress in Italy. Seven OFA members presented a range of papers on organic systems at this major international event.

The World Congress is held in conjunction with the IFOAM General Assembly, at which members elect the World Board members and vote on general policy matters. This year Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia, Andre Leu, was elected onto the World Board of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The new World Board has an even greater spread of members from around the globe and it is significant that this region has been able to maintain a position on the Board. The previous World Board member was Brendan Hoare, from New Zealand, and Liz Clay, from Gippsland, Victoria, preceded him.

Soil Carbon Alliance

The farmers’ climate change lobby group, Carbon Coalition has joined forces with organic industry peak body, the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA), and environmental research and marketing organization, the Centre for Organic Resource & Enterprise (CORE), to form the Soil Carbon Alliance.

The soil is a powerful carbon sink that can play a major role in turning the table on climate change if given a chance, according to the Alliance. It stores more carbon than the atmosphere and all the trees and vegetation on the Earth combined. Australia has more than 450 million hectares of land managed by farmers. There are 5.5 billion hectares of farmland in the world "If farmers were to sequester half a tonne of carbon per hectare, we could extract more than 12 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere," said Michael Kiely from the Carbon Coalition. The world emits 8 billion tonnes more than it should each year. "Already farmers in WA are sequestering between 1 and 3 tonnes per hectare per year, according to Government – sponsored trials."

Soil carbon has been a neglected field for scientific work (compared to the $175million given to the coal industry to develop ‘clean coal’.) This under-investment has left Agriculture unprepared for joining the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Organic Update is a publication of the Organic Federation of Australia
Phone +61 1300 657 435
PO Box 369 Bellingen NSW 2454 Australia
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© Organic Federation of Australia 2008

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