Review of events

GMOs, how to avoid contaminations? Practical solutions for food and feed processors and farmers
13 February 2019, Nuremberg, Germany

To remain GMO-free, the organic food chain needs to implement suitable measures to limit the risk of contamination.  It is important to take action to prevent contamination to avoid economic loss and loss of credibility towards clients and consumers.

IFOAM EU presented practical recommendations for farmers and processors to limit the risk of GMO-contamination at Biofach. These recommendations come from a publication about guidelines on how to avoid GMOs contaminations.

The launch event and publication are a collaboration between the Organic Research Center, BÖLW and FNAB. Dr. Friedhelm von Mering from BÖLW, Fiona Marty from FNAB and Pauline Verrière from IFOAM EU were present.

New developments and use cases of the Internet of Food and Farm 2020 at Biofach
14 February 2019, Nuremberg, Germany

Technology and agriculture are closely linked. Tech-lovers present at Biofach gathered at the ‘Internet of Food and Farming 2020’ (IoF2020) project’s meeting ‘Next generation technologies in organic food and farming - New developments and use cases of the Internet of Food and Farm 2020’ to receive an update of two cases of the IoF2020 project.

IFOAM EU represents the organic movement in this project and its Director, Eduardo Cuoco, opened the session highlighting the opportunities the Internet of Things (IoT) has to tracking and tracing products, the spread of direct farmer-to-consumer markets and to integrate knowledge on the climate, soil, plant and animal needs.

Rafael Angel Ferrer, R&D Manager at Hispatec, presented the first findings of using the IoT in olive growing and olive oil production.

Continuing along the Mediterranean line, Gianni Trioli, founder and President of VINIDEA, shared the benefits of using the IoT in the different steps of organic wine growing. A few of his positive experiences using different types of sensors showed that the IoT helped them to make wine growing more efficient by monitoring growth, the number of insects, estimations of vigour and yields and more. Moreover, scanning wine with a spectrometer allows for sending real time wine content parameters to the farmer, while the quality of wine during shipping can be monitored daily using the IoT.

If you would like to know more about the IoF2020 project, visit the IoF2020 website where you can subscribe to its newsletter and follow it on Facebook and Twitter at @IoF2020.

Rafael Angel Ferrer, R&D Manager at Hispatec, presented the first findings of using the IoT in olive growing and olive oil production. Photo credit: Eva Berckmans

Gianni Trioli, founder and President of VINIDEA, shared the benefits of using the IoT in the different steps of organic wine growing. Photo credit: Eva Berckmans

Eduardo Cuoco, IFOAM EU Director, explains why the Internet of Things is important for organic food and farming. Photo credit: Eva Berckmans

Regulatory Aspects of the Organic International Trade
14 February 2019, Nuremberg, Germany

The session on the regulatory aspects of organic international trade took place in a very crowded room on 14 February.

Nicolas Verlet, Head of the European Commission’s organics unit presented the state of play of organic trade agreements. Mr Verlet talked about the progress in the talks with Third Countries. He also elaborated on the possibility of a global multilateral agreement. Such agreement would allow the recognition of each other’s organic certified products by a number of countries - including the EU, the US, Switzerland, Canada and others - instead of having many bilateral agreements.

Michel Reynaud, IFOAM EU Board member and Ecocert Vice-President presented the organic movement and sector’s vision on the future of international trade.  He stressed the importance of the major involvement of the sector in the initial phase of international organic negotiations. Beate Huber, Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), highlighted the importance of the impact that certain areas of the new organic regulation will have on millions of organic farmers outside the European Union. An example was the change in the rules for group certification. Tobias Fischer, Secretary General of the European Organic Certifiers Council, presented the points of the new organic regulation requiring clarification from certifiers’ point of view. The panel was moderated by Emanuele Busacca, IFOAM EU Regulation Manager.

Policy Day
14 February 2019, Nuremberg, Germany

A lively debate on the CAP took place at Biofach’s Policy Day titled: ‘A new CAP for healthy farms, people and a healthy planet’. Focussing on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2021-2027, high-level speakers discussed key elements of the future green architecture of the CAP

The panel represented a wide range of views, including public officials from the European Commission, the Romanian Presidency and a German Regional Agricultural Minister. The other panellists represented the farming community, the President of IFOAM EU, the Vice-President of the young farmers’ federation (CEJA), as well as a representative from academia of the Thünen institute.

The discussions centred on the need for environmental ambition and the role of organic farming in the future in the revision of the CAP 2021-27. Speakers spoke openly of the new opportunities in this CAP reform. They also touched on the serious challenges that this revision faces with a strained budget, a possible renationalisation of Europe’s farming sector and race to the bottom in terms of environmental ambition.

The role of organic farming took the centre stage as the audience commented the functioning of the new green architecture - including how the novel eco-schemes could be implemented.

Policy Day was organized by IFOAM EU and Biofach. We look forward to seeing you and discussing EU policies at next year’s edition of the Biofach Policy day.

Opportunities and challenges for specialized organic retailers
14 February 2019, Nuremberg, Germany

At Biofach 2019, IFOAM EU organised a session tailored to specialised organic retailers. The speakers of the session “Opportunities and challenges of specialized organic retailers in a rapidly evolving market” are members of the newly formed interest group of organic retailers (IGOR) within IFOAM EU. This group provides a platform for exchange and potential action for organic specialized retailers in Europe.

Speakers spoke about the situation for specialised retailers in their home country. Growth is generally still increasing, but at a slower pace compared to previous years. This is due to the entry of bigger conventional players in the organic market. The speakers also emphasized the advantages of specialized organic retailers, which include the larger choice of organic products, the closeness with the staff and the story behind each product.

The largest part of the session was dedicated to exchange with the audience, and they did not disappoint! Participants were passionate and curious about the evolution of the market. This time for exchange reinforced the idea that a specialized organic retailer should point towards transparency and open communication with consumers.

The three speakers were Evelyne Alcazar Marin, International Manager at Ecovalia (Spain), Alexis Descampe, Managing Director at Färm (Belgium) and Lukas Nossol, Marketing Manager at Dennree (Germany). The session was moderated by Silvia Schmidt from IFOAM EU.

Natural inputs in organic farming
15 February 2019, Nuremberg, Germany

Representatives of processing, plant protection, and organic standards discussed the use and need for inputs in organic at Biofach 2019.

What surfaced during the discussion is that organic food and farming faces challenges regarding the availability of natural substances traditionally used in organic farming. This is also true for processing aids, plant protection, food and feed additives or fertilizers.

Speakers noted that the current regulatory system for inputs is made for synthetic substances. More complex natural substances are often disadvantaged under the current regulations. A first step towards a better regulation would be to come up with a common definition on naturalness. This should take into account criteria on how to check inputs on their compliance with organic standards.

Read more about IFOAM EU’s work on plant protection and on the homepage of the RELACS research project. 'Replacement of Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems' (RELACS) will foster the development and facilitate the adoption of cost-efficient and environmentally safe tools and technologies, to phase out the dependency on and use of inputs considered contentious in organic farming systems.


"Farming without agrochemicals" - Can we grow without using herbicides, fungicides and insecticides?
06 March 2019, Bruxelles, Belgium

IFOAM EU participated in a workshop on the future of plant protection products. The European Parliaments Research Service, Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) organised the workshop.

Isabella Lang, Policy Analyst at IFOAM EU used this opportunity to explain that plant protection in organic farming is ensured by a holistic strategy. Organic farming is more than just an input replacement from a chemical to a natural substance. Management practices, technological developments and organic plant breeding are the cornerstones of this strategy.

Isabella Lang also drew attention to the need to reconcile productivity growth with other concerns to feed a growing population. Higher yields are not the only answer. To feed the world without further harming the planet we need a shift towards diversified agroecological and organic farming systems.

Read more about IFOAM EU’s work on plant protection and on the homepage of the RELACS research project which is working on lowering the use of contentious plant protection products in organic farming.

Isabella Lang, policy analyst for plant protection, explaining the plant health care strategy in organic farming. Photo credit: STOA Panel

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