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Organic Update

Chairs Report

Biofach – A Huge Success
The massive increase in attendance at this year’s Biofach was a surprise to the organisers. Biofach is the world’s largest trade show for organic products. Held in Nuremberg in Germany the event has thousands of exhibitors in nine large halls covering several hectares. Thousands of people had to wait in queues for over an hour to enter the exhibition on the trade days.

The OFA stand promoting Australian Organic Products was an outstanding success with a constant steam of enquiries from buyers from all over the world for the products that were exhibited. The OFA would like to thank all our exhibitors and especially the Organic Dairy Farmers Coop, Kialis Olives, Sanctum and NASAA for helping by manning the stand.

Best Regards
Andre Leu

Farming News

Common Organic Farming Methods Increase Yields
A scientific study published in Environmental Science and Technology, has shown that adopting techniques, common to organic farming, such as of crop rotation, healthy soils with high organic matter and natural pest control, can dramatically increase yields. The study examined over 280 projects in 57 developing nations and found that pesticide and water use were reduced, and carbon sequestration was increased.

The report’s authors stated that ‘The average crop yield increase was 79% (geometric mean 64%). All crops showed water use efficiency gains, with the highest improvement in rainfed crops. Potential carbon sequestered amounted to an average of 0.35 t C ha-1 y-1. If a quarter of the total area under these farming systems adopted sustainability enhancing practices, we estimate global sequestration could be 0.1 Gt C y-1. Of projects with pesticide data, 77% resulted in a decline in pesticide use by 71% while yields grew by 42%.’

Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex, who co-authored the report, told the BBC that it raises doubts about the commonly accepted view that the West is the authority on agricultural matters. "In many ways farmers in developing countries are leading the way," he said.

France Fines Monsanto for Fraudulent Advertising:
Agence Presse news service reported that a French court fined on both Monsanto and Scotts France A$23,600 for misleading the public about Roundup. A former chairman of Monsanto Agriculture France had claimed that Roundup is biodegradable and "left the soil clean."

Roundup's active ingredient is glyphosate. Studies in Denmark found that their ground water was contaminated with it and banned many of its uses. The US EPA claims glyphosate is persistent in the environment.

According to a June 2005 report in Environmental Health Perspectives, Roundup was found to be "...toxic to human placental...cells within 18 hours [of exposure], with concentrations lower than those found in agricultural use," and, "Roundup is always more toxic than its active ingredient." The researchers also found glyphosate and Roundup effects on sexual hormones at very low levels. This suggests that "dilution with other ingredients in Roundup may, in fact, facilitate glyphosate's hormonal impacts." Source: Organic Consumers Association

Australian Organic News

Professional Support Program for Organic Conversion
Converting to organic farming can be difficult for farmers. This is a time when advice and training from experts can help farmers develop the management systems needed to ensure success.

The Organic Transition Program covers both group training and one-on-one consulting advice for farmers and food processors or handlers considering or undertaking the transition to organic production. It is Australia’s largest organic training program and is run by Tim Marshall, one of Australia’s most respected and knowledgeable organic farming experts.

Info sessions will be held on Wednesday 28 February at 5pm at Virginia Horticulture, Old Port Wakefield Road, Virginia
Contact the Office on 08 8339 6959 or email to
Tim Marshall 0412 47 32 30 Doug Adamson 0418 95 96 99

Leading World Nutritionist to Visit Australia
Real food activist, researcher and author Sally Fallon will be giving a variety of talks including ‘Nourishing Traditional Diets – the Key to Vibrant Health’, ‘The Cholesterol Myths’, ‘Nourishing Our Children’ and ‘Why Pasture Fed is Best’. Sally will explain the roles of shaky science and vested interests in dictating our food choices and the consequences for our health. Our children are suffering from allergies, asthma, learning and behaviour problems; rates of diabetes and obesity are increasing.

Sally specialises in the dangers of processed foods, low-fat diets and modern refined foods including vegetable oils and soy infant formula - and why coconut oil and animal fats like butter are healthy.

She will explain why we must care about how our food is produced, why organic and pasture fed matter, why cultured foods are important and how to prepare nourishing traditional foods all the family will love. Tour details and bookings:
Phone bookings: 1300 797 762

Elaine Ingham Runs True Fertility Seminars
Dr Elaine Ingham, one of the world’s leading experts on composting and compost teas will be holding True Fertility seminars combining soil biology, nutrients and structure. Thy will be run in Warragul, Tuesday March 13th to Saturday March 17th and at Werribee Monday March 19th to Friday March 23rd. Details can be found at
Phone (61) +3 5627 8663 Mobile 0402 213 736

International Organic News

Boom in New Organic Supermarkets
The wave of new large dedicated organic supermarkets started at the end of the nineties continues grow at an undiminished rate. There were around 360 organic supermarkets with sales areas of over 200 m² in Germany at the start of 2007, reports the online magazine Organic-Market.Info. 56 new stores opened last year - including nine relocations to larger stores. Between 25 and 60 new organic supermarkets a year have been opened since 2000 - an average of 40 a year. Source: Biofach

Organic Cotton From Spain
Organic cotton was presented as a possible solution for crisis-ridden Andalusian cotton industry during a conference of the Andalusian Federation of Arable and Livestock Farmers (COAG) and the state government's Directorate General for Organic Agriculture last December. According to Manuel Izquierdo, secretary of COAG, the demand for organic cotton has distinctly increased in the past years. Source: Biofach

Chinese Government Wants To Support Organic Export
The People's Republic of China wants to export organic food on a large scale, according to the government's White Book. Setting up national production bases for organic food production has high priority. Growing fruit and vegetables without chemical fertilizers or pesticides is labour-intensive, but promising. Organic crops achieve 20-40 % higher prices than crops from conventional farming. "Organic farming is still in the development phase in China, but it will flourish in the next ten years," reports the Berliner Zeitung, quoting Xiao Xingji, Director of the Organic Food Development Centre in the Environment Ministry. The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) also sees China as a large-scale organic producer in the future. Source: Biofach

Biofach China Organizes Excursion
The BioFach China International Trade Fair opens its doors for the first time from 31.5-2.6.2007 in Shanghai. In connection with visiting the exhibition, NürnbergMesse China Co. Ltd. and Organic Services GmbH offers the chance to take part in an excursion especially for buyers of organic raw materials. The aim of this excursion is not only to obtain a profound overview of the organic materials currently available, but also to get to know key players in trade and export and acquire an understanding of the Chinese organic certification system and the growing organic food industry. Contact: (Tel.: +49-89-82075902). Source: Biofach

Greenpeace: More Pesticides Found In Fruit And Vegetables
New investigations by Greenpeace show that fruit and vegetable growers in Germany spray tomatoes, lettuce, rucola and apples with non-approved pesticides that are hazardous to health. "It is a myth that products from Germany are much less contaminated," says Martin Hofstetter, Greenpeace agriculture expert. 29 % of the 84 fruit and vegetable samples examined from supermarket chains contained illegal pesticides and 24 were contaminated with prohibited pesticides. Ten samples contained agents that are not allowed to be used in Germany at all and 14 other samples contained substances not approved for the fruit or vegetables concerned. Source: Biofach

US Federal Court Halts Genetically Engineered Grass Field Trials
A US federal court judge, Harold Kennedy, said the USDA's past approvals of field trials of genetically engineered bentgrass were illegal and a threat to the environment and these experiments must be halted. In 2006, experimental genetically engineered bentgrass, designed for golf courses, escaped from its test plot and within weeks had already spread several miles away, mixing with native grasses. The full impacts of this are still unknown. According to Tom Stohlgren, an ecologist at the US Geological Survey's National Institute of Invasive Species Science, the experimental bentgrass "can tend to outcompete other species...It doesn't need to sexually reproduce - it's like The Blob. It could potentially hit rare species or national parks." Source

Organic Update is a publication of the Organic Federation of Australia
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PO Box 369 Bellingen NSW 2454 Australia
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