- IFOAM appreciates IAASTD report on a new agriculture paradigm focusing on poor farmers as a step in the right direction
- Join the online discussion forum on Genetic Engineering and Organic Agriculture in Africa
- Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions on PGS now available on the IFOAM Website
- The Organic Africa website has been updated
- Triodos Bank has launched the Sustainable Trade Fund
- An Open Letter from scientists to the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations: A Green Revolution for Africa?
- Benin renews moratorium on GMOs
- OPPAZ has published a book titled: African Organic Farmers Field Crop Manual
- Upcoming Organic Agriculture related events
1. IFOAM appreciates IAASTD report on a new agriculture paradigm focusing on poor farmers as a step in the right direction
| ||IFOAM expresses moderate satisfaction for IAASTD report and for its attempt to rethink the approach to agriculture, giving farmers a central role.|
The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology (IAASTD) held its intergovernmental plenary meeting from 7-14 April in Johannesburg, South Africa. A final report was approved by governments at that meeting. Ms. Prabha Mahale, member of the IFOAM World Board – i.e. the governing body of IFOAM – headed the IFOAM delegation at the meeting, demonstrating IFOAM’s highest and long-term involvement in promoting a new sustainable paradigm for agriculture.
Conceived in 2002 by the World Bank and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the IAASTD began to work in 2004 with the objective of improving life, health and prosperity for millions of poor farmers. Over three years (2005-2007), a group of scientific experts selected by IAASTD evaluated the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science and technology, as well as the policies and institutional solutions to these questions. The 400 experts reconvened last week in Johannesburg to agree on a final text to be approved by governmental delegates.
The IAASTD report underlines the necessity of a deep rethinking of the approach to agriculture. It admits the market’s lack of capacity to deliver prosperity and food security to the poor and it states the need to review some unfair trade rules. The report also emphasizes the need to reform some intellectual property laws on patents on novel crops, as to not let them jeopardize new research and agriculture innovation. The report is also critical towards the domination of multinational companies on seed and fertilizer markets. It calls for an implementation of agroecological strategies, in particular to realize environmental sustainability, and spotlights the doubts and controversies concerning genetically modified crops. The report is definitely asking for a new agriculture paradigm, focused on the farmer’s role and especially on poor farmers.
The development of a healthy, ecological and fair agriculture, following the principles of Organic Agriculture (health, ecology, fairness and care), has always been IFOAM’s major commitment through its whole history. The presence of Ms. Mahale at the IAASTD plenary meeting reaffirmed such a commitment at the highest level. IFOAM is therefore supporting IAASTD in its effort to encourage a fundamental rethinking of agricultural policies. IFOAM considers the IAASTD´s report an acceptable compromise.
Official information on the Assessment, including news from the plenary, available at www.agassessment.org.
2. Join the online discussion forum on Genetic Engineering and Organic Agriculture in Africa
| ||All are invited to join the discussion forum on Genetic Engineering and Organic Agriculture in Africa at: www.ifoam.org/forum_php/viewforum.php?f=1.|
The registration is quick, easy, secure, and confidential. The registration URL is:
In Africa, millions of small-holder farmers cannot grow enough food to sustain their families, their communities, or their countries. This leads to recurrent food crises and enhanced difficulties to feed its growing population. Africa’s food crisis calls out for answers. Efforts are currently underway to bring genetic engineering, particularly genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to Africa. The reality is that GMOs are not appropriate for African agricultural systems and will not benefit African farmers. They may cause negative and irreversible environmental impacts, denial of free choice, both for farmers and consumers, violation of farmers' fundamental property rights and endangerment of their economic independence, unacceptable threats to human health, etc.
However, some GMOs have already been released for commercial use and others are used in field trials in some African countries and in the world. This means that African organic produce can not be completely excluded from the risk of GMO contamination.
The IFOAM Africa Office has set up this online discussion forum on the IFOAM website to enable African organic stakeholders and others interested to share their opinion and experience about the following issues:
- Does it make sense to declare organic products in Africa GM-free?
- What is undertaken to avoid the contamination of non-GM crops in Africa?
- Do policies around thresholds exist in Africa? Are they necessary in the African context?
- Considering the fact that the majority of African certified organic produce is destined for exports markets, with the large majority being exported to the European Union, what would be the consequence for the African organic sector if the European organic market imposes mandatory testing for genetic contamination for the verification of organic production?
Two persons from the Organic Movement in Africa will present the outcomes of the discussion during the session on Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms, to be held at the Organic World Congress in Modena, Italy.
3. Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions on PGS now available on the IFOAM Website
| ||Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are quality assurance initiatives that are locally relevant, emphasize the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers and operate outside the frame of third party certification. The IFOAM PGS Task Force has developed answers to the Frequently Asked Questions on PGS. These are available on the IFOAM website at www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/standards/pgs/PGS_FAQs.html.|
4. The Organic Africa website has been updated
| ||The website of the Organic Africa initiative www.organicafrica2008.com has been updated with photos from the Organic Africa Pavilion. Presentations from the symposium and the exhibitor list as well as other materials can be found on the website.|
5. Triodos Bank has launched the Sustainable Trade Fund
| ||In February, the Triodos Bank launches the Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund at the international organic farming trade fair in Nuernberg, Germany. The Fund will provide trade finance to certified organic and Fair Trade producers in developing countries and emerging markets, in order to increase their access to export markets. The Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund will start with a portfolio of EUR 10 million, which will be used to finance more than 20 organizations in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.|
For more information, visit www.triodos.com/com/whats_new/latest_news/press_releases/446732.
6. An Open Letter from scientists to the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations: A Green Revolution for Africa?
| ||A group of scientists from around the world has recently initiated an open letter to the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations regarding the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA). The scientists expressed their worry that the AGRA initiative would include a large-scale application of a technological package comprising new seed varieties, often including genetically modified seeds, industrial farm inputs and massive agricultural infrastructure. This package might benefit the multinational agro-chemical corporations and destroy Africa’s genetic agro-biodiversity at the expense of the environment and small farmers which the program is claiming to target.|
According to the scientists, the following needs to take place before AGRA begins full implementation of its potentially disruptive agricultural initiative:
- A broad spectrum of scientists and science educators need to fully review and challenge assumptions in AGRA’ planned goals, motives and methodologies.
- Universities need to commit to conducting applied research on alternative methodologies that may offer Africa more environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural systems.
- Public debate needs to offer a broader view of African hunger and food security, while committing AGRA to greater transparency and accountability.
To read and endorse the full letter, visit www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?AGRA121&1.
7. Benin renews moratorium on GMOs
| ||Benin has decided to renew for a five years period, the moratorium on the import, marketing and use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and GMO by-products in its territory. The renewal of the moratorium, introduced in 2002, was based on the lack of a legal, technical and scientific framework on the threat of transgenic products from some member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) invading the sub-regional market.|
In keeping with the precautionary principle, Benin adopted on 2 March 2002, a five-year moratorium on the import, marketing and use of GMOs or GMO by-products on its territory.
There is no act of law in Benin governing the sector and the country lacks scientific skills and equipment for the detection, monitoring and control of GMOs.
For more information, visit www.gouv.bj/affiche_actualites1.php?numero_article=1215.
8. OPPAZ has published a book titled: African Organic Farmers Field Crop Manual
| ||The Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ) has recently published a book titled “African Organic Farmers Field Crop Manual” for Organic Agriculture production in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. The manual is suitable for farmers, farm managers, extension workers, students, teachers and lecturers, researchers and policy makers. The book will be distributed locally to book shops, schools, colleges and the University of Zambia at a nominal contribution yet to be worked out. |
The book will be published soon on the OPPAZ website at www.oppaz.org.zm. For more information, please contact Munshimbwe Chitalu at email@example.com.
9. Upcoming Organic Agriculture related events
| ||The 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress: Cultivate the Future|
June 18-20 2008
Food Sovereignty Indaba
June 20-21 2008
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
For more information, contact Monique Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IFOAM General Assembly
June 22-24 2008
Organic Work Camp
July 7-28 and August 4-25 2008
For more information, please contact Simon Anoumou Todzro at email@example.com.
International Seminar on Organic Farming - Principles & Practices For East African Countries
September 9-24 2008
CINADCO’s International Training Centre at Kibbutz Hotel Shefayim, Israel
For more information, contact the nearest Israeli Embassy or visit the Israel’s Foreign Ministry web site at http://mashav.mfa.gov.il (in Contact Us - Information and Registration).
Head Office Contact Information
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International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) e.V.
Trial Court Bonn, Association Register no. 8726
Executive Board: Gerald A. Herrmann, Alberto Lernoud, Mette Meldgaard