Organic Federation of Australia

Organic Update Organic Federation of Australia
Organic Update

Organic Production is Good News

The organic sector continues to grow rapidly around the world and is one of the good news stories. This issue looks at the environmental and social benefits as well as the continuing growth, especially in the newly emerging body care and clothing sectors.

Climate change and drought continue to be headline news. More evidence is emerging showing that organic agriculture can make a positive contribution in alleviating these events. Organic agriculture's use of compost and crop diversity means it will also be able to better withstand the higher temperatures and more variable rainfall expected with global warming.

The OFA wishes everybody a wonderful 2007

Best Regards
Andre Leu

Drought, Climate Change and Improved Standard of Living

Drought Resilience in Ethopia
Using compost rather than chemical fertilisers, means that organic soils contain much more humus and organic carbon. Humus can store around 20 times its own weight in water

According to Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, Director General of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia, a village in the Tigray region of Ethiopia that had converted to organic agriculture continued to harvest crops during a severe drought, while neighbouring villages using conventional chemical fertilisers had nothing.

Tewolde, who pioneered the organic systems in a number of communities in northern Ethiopia as a way of ensuring food security, reported that the early success has prompted government agricultural departments to adopt organic techniques.
Source: Inter Press Service News Agency.

Climate Change
According to the Rodale Institute, if just 10,000 medium-sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road.

A 23-year side-by-side comparison study conducted by the Rodale Institute showed the carbon levels of organic soils increased while there was little change in the non organic systems. The study also showed that organic systems used just 63 percent of the energy required by conventional farming system.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is the principal cause of global warming. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and put it into the soil as carbon compounds. The use of composts innoculates the soil with humus building micro organisms that convert these carbon compounds into humus. CSIRO research shows that humus chains can last thousand of years.

El Salvador Organic Coffee Improves Standard of Living
Converting to organic coffee production has improved the standard of living for small farmers of the Santa Adelaida cooperative in El Salvador. The higher prices have seen an increase in income and a consolidation of social programmes for its members, who have historically been marginalised due to little education and poverty.

The Santa Adelaida cooperative is expanding its organic production due to high demand. "We need to produce more coffee, because our customers want more of it, the demand is greater than what we produce," said José Sandoval, a Salvadoran small farmer and coop member. "We can visualise our entire production going organic by 2012, that is to say, 650 hectares,"

With the extra income the cooperative will be able to expand its educational, healthcare, housing, drinking water and electricity programmes for its 200 members, in addition to distributing profits of some 600 dollars each at the end of the year.

In contrast, most traditional coffee growers in El Salvador are facing a crisis because of low coffee prices, insecurity, lack of field hands and bank embargoes. Many have abandoned their lands, or are splitting them up into smaller plots for sale. Source: IPS News Service

International Organic News

Asda - 3 Fold Increase in Organic Food Lines
Asda, Britain's second largest supermarket chain, has implemented a three-fold increase in the number of organic product lines to 900.
Source: The Guardian

UK Milk Market Grows by 40%
One of the UK’s largest milk supliers, Robert Wiseman Dairies, has stated that the UK organic milk market grew by around 40 per cent in the last 12 months. The chief executive, Robert Wiseman, predicted it would become a significant percentage of consumer demand within a decade. Source: Organic Monitor

Natural and Organic Cosmetics worth A$1.5 billion
World sales of natural and organic cosmetics are projected to surpass the A$ 1.5 billion (€1 billion) mark for the first time this year, growing by an average of 20 per cent a year, according to market researcher Organic Monitor.

Jackie Chan Launches Organic Skin Care Products
Jackie Chan, the internation martial arts actor has branched out into the organic skin care market with the launch of his cosmetics range, The Jackie Chan Skin Care Line.

A statement published on Chan’s official website stated: ‘In keeping with Jackie's history of preserving and protecting the environment, the products are composed of natural ingredients which are non-polluting and all packaging is made using recycled materials.’ Source: Organic Monitor

Stella McCartney, Launches Organic Skin Care Line
Stella McCartney, the daughter of Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has announced the Spring 2007 launch of her exclusively organic skin care line, ‘Care’ that targets the premium market. Source: Organic Monitor

Tesco Develops Organic Personal Care Product Range
The UK supermarket chain, Tesco, is to launch its own brand of organic personal care products. Following extensive consumer research, the company has expanded its team of beauty experts - The Beauty Counsel - to help it develop luxurious but affordable products that meet the needs expressed by consumers.

Senior technologist Marion Morley says: "We had a gap in our offer. Customers wanted organic, recycled, paraben-free, SLS-free, natural fragrances etc so we tried to pull it all together."

Two products that are organic are a hand wash and a cleansing bar, with a lip balm to follow. "We do want to make the range more organic but with one line we've already found it difficult to get supply. The decision made corporately is to be organic where we can," says Morley.

Tesco aims to become the leading retailer of organic personal care products as well as organic foods. Source: Organic Monitor

Mavi to Introduce Organic Jeans
Turkish denim giant Mavi will introduce its first organic jeans collection. The Mavi Organic line uses 100 percent Aegean cotton that has been grown and harvested without the use of environmentally harmful chemicals. Source: Organic Monitor

Ecofarms (India) to Produce and Market Organic Garments
Ecofarms (India) plans to produce and market organic garments. The company is in the business of production and export of organic food products and cotton.

The company will launch menswear and under garments under the brand name, Earth Conscious. Source: India Business Insight

Australian Organic News

Biofach Feb 15 –18 2007
The OFA is coordinating the Australian Organic Products Stand at Biofach,in Germany in February 2007. Biofach is the world’s largest exhibition of organic goods and services. It is an excellent opportunity to sell Australian products to buyers from all over the world. NASAA has confirmed that it will be promoting its certified producers. If you are interested in exhibiting and/or promoting your product you can find the information and costs on the front page of our website

NEW Drought Portal on Rural RDC website
A new Drought Portal has been built into the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations' Chairs' website to increase access to practical tools and research results for dealing with drought.

The Drought Portal will link producers to information from both collaborative projects such as Managing Climate Variability and Grain & Graze, as well as practical tools and information from individual RDCs.

Information has been grouped into four topics:

  • Climate Change
  • Water Use Efficiency
  • Pasture Management
  • Feeding Livestock

Access the Drought Portal via

Australian Vegetable Industry Conference 2007 - Vegetables Claim Centre Plate
Vegetables will claim centre plate at the Australian Vegetable Industry Conference 2007 from 29 May – 1 June at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour.

Building on the success of the 2006 inaugural conference, 2007 is shaping up to be even bigger, with the general vegetable, onion, fresh potato and processing potato industries merging their conferences into one all inclusive event.

The conference theme ‘vegetables claim centre plate’ reminds Australians that the vegetable industry is a serious agricultural contributor and reclaims the rightful place vegetables should have on the dinner plate of all Australians.

Visit the AUSVEG website: to find out about the program, speakers, sponsorship, trade exhibition and registering for the Australian Vegetable Industry Conference 2007.

The OFA is on the organising committee of this important national conference. We look forward to seeing you there.

New Book on Organic Agriculture
Going Organic: Mobilizing Networks for Environmentally Responsible Food Production, and is published by CAB International. The authors are Stewart Lockie, Kristen Lyons, Geoffrey Lawrence and Darren Halpin.

Going Organic explores what it takes to get people involved in growing, selling, processing and eating organic food. It identifies a range of popular misconceptions about involvement in organics: that organic consumers are wealthy environmental and health extremists; that organic farmers are mostly in it for the money; and that growth in the industry will inevitably undermine its values as big business takes over. Going Organic argues that the future of organic food and agriculture will depend on the ability of the organic sector to develop more sustainable food systems; protect and enhance standards; improve the livelihoods of organic farmers; and achieve better supply chain coordination. Orders:

Health News

70% decline in Minerals in UK Conventional Food
According to an analysis of British government nutrition data on meat and dairy products from the 1930s and from 2002, the mineral content of milk, cheese and beef declined as much as 70 percent in that period.

"These declines are alarming," said Ian Tokelove, spokesman for The Food Commission that published the results of the study. The Commission is a British non-governmental organisation advocating for healthier, safer food.

The research found that parmesan cheese had 70 percent less magnesium and calcium, beef steaks contained 55 percent less iron, chicken had 31 percent less calcium and 69 percent less iron, while milk also showed a large drop in iron along with a 21 percent decline in magnesium. Copper also declined 60 percent in meats and 90 percent in dairy products.

"It seems likely that intensive farming methods are responsible for this," Tokelove said. Source: Stephen Leahy, IPS News Service

Pesticides Effect Neurobehavioral Development in Children
Researchers from the University of Michigan have shown that living in communities with a high potential for exposure to pesticides effects the behaviour and development of children.

The study publish in the peer reviewed scientific journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, compared neurobehavioral development in Ecuadoran children living in two communities with high potential for exposure to organophosphate and carbamate pesticides to that of children living in a community with low potential for exposure.

The researchers concluded ‘Residence in communities with high potential for exposure to OP and carbamate pesticides was associated with poorer neurobehavioral development of the child …’.

Pesticides Linked to Leukemia and Prostate Cancer
A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives has linked organophosphates to increases in leukemia and prostate cancer.

The researchers from the US National Cancer Institute, University of Iowa and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences stated that ‘Relative to the unexposed, leukemia risk was elevated in the highest category of lifetime… among applicators with a family history of prostate cancer, we observed a significant dose–response trend for lifetime exposure-days.’

Pesticides Linked to Childhood Asthma
Researchers from the University of California have published a study in Environmental Health Perspectives that establishes a link with exposure to organophosphates (OP) and the early onset of asthma in children

‘Our results are consistent with other studies that have found associations between exposures to OP pesticides and self-reported exacerbation or onset of respiratory disorders in adults (Hoppin et al. 2002; Zhang et al. 2002) and children (Salam et al. 2004). Salam et al. (2004) found that exposure to herbicides and pesticides, in the first year of life, was associated with higher odds of asthma in children.’