IFOAM has, for many years, received the disdain of American politicians,
academics and even many famers. It seems to represent a threat to some US
interests. This is unfortunate since IFOAM, more than any other
organization, as achieved an international forum for open discussion among
organic farmers and researchers. It has created, through a process of
democratic concensus and long before there were any "national organic
standards", the only world standards for organic agriculture and has
received ISO recognition as a reference. This is a significant achievement
for organic agriculture. IFOAM is made up of humans and therefore is not
perfect. But Americans who wish to advance the practice of organic
agriculture and its influence in world development and agricultural
policies would do well to support IFOAM's efforts.
I might point out that organic agriculture is the only farming system in
the world that has written standards and an inspection and certification
system in place to guarantee that those standards are met. It is for this
reason that organic food is receiving the increasing approval and
confidence of consumers throughout the world, growing at the pace of 20-30%
per year and IFOAM's document states. IFOAM standards have played a key
role in this process and in harmonizing standards between countries. This
is compentent leadership in sustainable agriculture--both on the part of
IFOAM and of organic farmers--far more so that anything USDA has given us.
Indeed the current efforts by government and corporate scientists to
discredit organics is an indication of its successful ascent in the favor
of consumers. Organic agriculture was around long before the term
"sustainability" was coined by the politicians, so it is not quite
accurate to say that it is sustainability put in to practice. As
practiced, it is far from ideal, as we have often discussed on this list.
But it is the only system being practiced by large numbers of famers today
that has even approached ecological, economic and social sanity. It is the
only system that offers a concrete alternative to farmers, including an
established, more direct market. It is far more than just a "soil based
system of agroecosystem managment". It is a practical philosophy, not only
of farming, but of community, stewardship and relationship with the land.
The experience of thousands of organic farmers, processors, merchants,
consumer coops and scientists belies the validity of your outburst. Organic
agriculture is already providing leadership in sustainable agriculture and
no serious consideration of our agroecological future can fail to take this
experience into account, whatever deficiencies it may have.
Personally, I found the IFOAM statement pertinent and inspiring which is
why I wanted to share it with SANET.
At 08:31 AM 17/09/99 -0600, you wrote:
>snip: It's logical, therefore, to conclude
>"organic agriculture is Sustainability put into practice".
>Having become quite immune to IFOAM's pompous and ill founded
>statements I find that I am surprisingly livid at the contemplation of this
>Organiculture, as I learned it, holds the same potential today that it has
>for the past seventy five years. As a SOIL based system of
>agroecosystem management it offers the future possibility of long-term
>Sustainability. To project that potential on to the current practice of
>organic agriculture and to make such pronouncements as the above
>insures that the "Organic Movement" will find no place in the leadership
>of competent agriculture in the next century.
>Ted Rogers, Biologist
>USDA-Office of Pest Management Policy
Mexico, D.F. & San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas
Tel. y FAX 525-666-73-66 (DF)
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