Review of events

IFOAM EU meets business 
30 October, Brussels    

Photo credit: Karin Heinze

“IFOAM EU meets business” was a first of its kind as it brought both organic pioneers and newcomers together. This event took place on 30 October in Brussels and attracted about 50 companies for a day of exchange of information and best practices, getting to know each other, and finding ways to reach the goal “organic on every table” of the organic movement’s vision.

This meeting was specifically an opportunity for IFOAM EU, its Interest Group of Organic Processors and Traders (IGOP) and interested food companies who work with organic products to discuss relevant topics in the organic sector.

After a welcome note from moderator and IFOAM EU Board member Michel Reynaud (Ecocert), IFOAM EU Director Eduardo Cuoco stressed that this meeting should be a first step in cooperating among different actors involved in organic. Presentations of the day included an overview of the organic regulation with a focus on residues and contaminants, a presentation on the development of the organic market, and finally a snapshot of the potential impacts of Brexit on the organic sector.

Participants also tried to reply to the question “how can the private sector contribute to a well-functioning organic supply chain and its integrity?” in a World Café setting.

At the end of a fruitful day of interesting presentations, World Café talks and information exchange, participants were enthusiastic and eager to look into future opportunities to cooperate. Are you interested in what was discussed during the meeting? Read the programme.

BIOFACH was the exclusive sponsor of this event

Farmers Interest Group meeting
15 November, Logrono, La Rioja (Spain)

Farmers Group Excursion – photo credit: Aina Calafat

The autumn edition of the Farmers Interest Group meeting took place in the heart of the Spanish wine growing region La Rioja. IFOAM EU’s farmers group discussed, among other things, about the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposal, the implementing acts of the new organic regulation, and internal capacity building.

The meeting took place alongside the Spanish Organic Congress organised by the Spanish Organic Farming Association (SEAE - La Sociedad Española de Agricultura Ecológica/Agroecología). Following the meeting, the farmers visited an organically managed vegetable and educational farm and the municipal olive oil processing facilities of La Rioja.

                                                                                                                                                This event is co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM EU. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.


Adequate risk assessment and copper minimisation strategies remain the most important topics: 3rd European conference on copper in plant protection
15-16 November, Berlin, Germany                                               

Isabella Lang presenting the European Strategy on Copper Minimisation – credit Jutta Kienzle

Almost 100 stakeholders including scientists, regulatory bodies, practitioners, advisors and farming associations from eight different countries discussed the current and future role of copper in plant protection strategies in organic farming.

The first part of the conference looked into the question of adequate risk assessment concerning natural substances like copper. The scientific community welcomed the EU Commission’s move to mandate the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to draft a special guidance document for the appropriate risk assessment of minerals, which is needed to better understand the effects of copper on humans and the environment. According to the scientific community, the sound assessment of minerals needs to be a priority.

Copper minimisation strategies from Austria, France and Germany were presented and it was made clear that time and money, especially for research into organic plant breeding, is urgently needed to further minimise the use of copper in plant protection.

IFOAM EU co-organised the conference together with the German federal research centre Julius Kuhn-Institut and BÖLW, the German Federation of Organic Food Industries.


European citizens demand a fair, green and healthy CAP for good food and good farming
19 November, Brusells

Protesters in front of the Council of the EU - Photo credit: Maria Gernert

The final event of the Good Food Good Farming (GFGF) European Days of Action took place in Brussels on 19 November. This event came after more than 60 events and actions that raised the alarm to stop industrial agriculture and brought together thousands of people across 19 European countries.

During the Disco Soup culinary and musical act of protest in front of the Council of the European Union, the demands of hundreds of thousands of European citizens were taken to the meeting of the EU agriculture ministers. A letter and petition, signed by more than 100,000 EU citizens, were handed over to the Austrian Council Presidency as urgent call upon EU decision-makers to serve up a better future for farming, and to deliver a socially and environmentally ambitious CAP. The Presidency was also given good, clean and fair products from European countries, and a booklet with ingredients for a better CAP, illustrated with pictures of Europeans and their concrete demands to achieve good food and good farming.

The manifestation celebrated the diversity of sustainable agriculture and rose the collective voice of civil society in support of a fair, green and healthy CAP reform that enables the transition to a new, improved agri-food system that respects people, animals and the planet. IFOAM EU is part of the GFGF campaign, that consists of over 80 civil society groups, representing farmers, food activists and environmental organisations.


Organic & Origin
27 November, Brusells

Organic&Origin Conference - Photo credit: Emanuele Busacca

IFOAM EU Vice-President Jiří Lehejček spoke at the High-level Conference 'Organic & Origin' hosted by Croatian Member of the EU Parliament Ivan Jakovčić on 27 November 2018. Other Members of the EU Parliament and the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan were present as well.

The conference acknowledged the importance of organic products and of regional products for the European environment, society and economy, in particular for European regions that would be otherwise be depopulated.

The speeches made it clear that the speakers see the synergies between organic and origin as the way forward. IFOAM EU closed the conference by sharing an ambitious vision: in the future, step by step, all the origin-labelled products should also be organic.


Continuously innovating to improve inputs – First annual meeting of the RELACS project
27-28 November 2018, Bari, Italy

RELACS meeting - Photo credit: Fabio Lanotte

Partners of the ‘Replacement of Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems’ (RELACS) project met for the first annual project meeting. They discussed the progress that was made during first months of the project, exchanged knowledge on how to improve inputs used in organic farming, and planned the work that will be performed in the different work packages. Each different work package will analyse the use of certain inputs, and research and develop alternatives to these.

Among the activities that were started during the first months of the project was the development of different questionnaires researching the inputs used in organic farming, and the set-start of field trials at more than ten different locations in various European countries.

The results of the research performed by farmers and researchers will be communicated throughout the project through workshops, field days, university courses, practice abstracts and videos. These will serve as tools that can be used by other farmers to benefit from the research performed in this project.

Keep an eye on the RELACS website, and RELACS Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates about the project.

The first annual meeting was hosted by the Institute for Mediterranean studies (CIHEAM Bari). ‘Replacement of Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems’ (RELACS) will foster development and facilitate adoption of cost-efficient and environmentally safe tools and technologies, to phase out the dependency on and use of contentious inputs in organic farming systems.

RELACS has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 773431. The information contained in this communication only reflects the author’s view.


Organic plant breeding in Europe: seed for future food systems  
29 November, Brusells

Developing organic plant breeding in Europe is a priority for the organic movement, but it is urgent to find funding models for breeders. At the conference organised on 29 November by Demeter, in partnership with IFOAM EU, several participants rang the alarm about the dire situation of many organic breeders in Europe, who struggle to fund their work or to find a successor for their pioneering breeding activities.

At the same time, promising initiatives were presented, that aim at ensuring that the whole organic production chain would contribute to funding organic breeding. For example, the Dutch retailer Odin has been very active in supporting the work of breeder De Beersche Hoeve in the Netherlands. Farmers, consumers, traders and retailers should all play a role to support organic plant breeding.

On the policy side, concerns were expressed about the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety’s (DG SANTE) upcoming delegated acts on heterogenous material, which may display a narrow view of what would be allowed for use in organic agriculture. IFOAM EU stated that it is time to put an end to the “one size fits all” approach of the EU seed legislation, and that the Commission should not close the door opened by the new provisions on seeds of the new organic regulation.

Concerning organic varieties, the new temporary experiment that will be launched by the Commission may seek to determine how the DUS (Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability) criteria for seed registration should be adapted to fit the needs of organic breeders and farmers.


Organic Innovation Days 2018: Insights from the policy debate
27-29 November, Bruseels

High-level speakers discussing the role of organic in the next Framework Programme Horizon Europe - Photo credit: Monica Jacobs

The 4th edition of the Organic Innovation Days gathered a broad range of actors from the organic sector and beyond: from companies and researchers, to farmers and farmer organisations to policy makers across Europe. The policy debate focused on the opportunities for organic actors in Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation framework programme for the period 2021-2027. The speakers shone light on the political priorities for Horizon Europe in the coming years, in particular on how Horizon Europe can strengthen research for organic farming and agroecology.

The invited policy makers from the European Commission, France and Germany showed themselves very open to and supportive of organic food and farming. Nathalie Sauze-Vandevyver, Director Quality, Research and Innovation, and Outreach at DG Agriculture, stressed that Horizon Europe should focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and organic farming has a role to play in this regard. Dr. Hanns-Christoph Eiden from the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food acknowledged that organic is a very well defined, sustainable and competitive food and farming system that already demonstrates the multi-actor approach in action. He added that value chains need to be developed to bring sustainable and organic products to the consumer. Also France has recognised the innovation potential of organic. Philippe Vinçon, Director General for Education and Research at the French ministry for Agriculture and Food announced that France wants to double its production of organic food. Finally, Hans-Joerg Lutzeyer from DG Research and Innovation spoke about the contribution the organic sector can make to the Food2030 policy initiative, while Urs Niggli, director of FiBL, said the organic sector should have courage to address its weaknesses too, such as the use of plant protection products in horticulture.


IFOAM EU expert group to build the capacity of the movement in Central and Eastern Europe meets to find the ways of local market development
6 December, Brusells

Low consumption of organic products is one of the main problems faced by the markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The main challenges are the lack of organic processing infrastructure as well as poor consumer awareness about organic food and farming.

The IFOAM EU CEE expert group met to find possible ways to help local markets to develop. The main conclusion is that engaging conventional processors into organic could be a great opportunity for the sector, as they have good infrastructure in place and possess financial capacity to invest in opening organic lines. At the same time, research needs to be translated into language adapted to consumers, so that they can get reliable, scientifically proven facts about organic food. This message has been conveyed during the International Conference on Organic Agriculture Sciences (ICOAS), where researchers from the CEE region met to present their research results. This also means that IFOAM EU members need to intensify their communication work at local level.

                                                                                                                                                This event is co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with the IFOAM EU Group. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.











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