[permaculture] Aust organics news
pacedge at magna.com.au
Sat Jul 12 04:22:52 EDT 2003
For the information of participants discussing organics recently on
this list, following is news from the Organic Federation Australia, the
national industry body...
NSW GM CROPS ON HOLD FOR THREE YEARS
June 18 2003
The planting of commercial genetically modified food crops in NSW,
Australia, will be put on hold for three years after a bill was passed
by state's lower house late last night.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald said the bill's
passing was a victory for farmers and consumers.
"I welcome the fact that the NSW Government can now honour its
pre-election commitment and fulfil its mandate on this issue," Mr
There had been a lot of misinformation surrounding the bill but the
minister said he was relieved the merit of the moratorium had been
The bill had the support of the NSW Farmers Association and covers the
marketing issues not already properly covered by federal regulations,
"The passing of the bill shows that most people now realise the health,
environmental and safety issues relating to GM food crops are already
covered by these federal regulations," he said.
Both houses of NSW Parliament debated the bill at length.
The Organic Tradeline is a trade bulletin carrying offers to buy and
sell, and is distributed to over 8,500 industry members around the
world, including over 750 in Australasia. It is the result of an
international cooperation between four organic trade websites in
Australia, Europe and USA. The publication has been running
successfully for over two years and is now being distributed monthly.
It lists trade offers in a wide range of categories.
To post a trade offer in the Organic Tradeline contact
webmaster at ofa.org.au . The cost is AU$10 per issue (minimum two
issues). It is free to receive this publication.
To request a copy of the latest edition send an email to
webmaster at ofa.org.au
VICTORIAN ORGANIC PRODUCE FOUND TO BE CHEMICAL-FREE
Most consumers have always believed that organic fruit and vegetables
are free of chemicals and pesticides. And now there's proof.
Australia's most comprehensive survey of its kind has shown that
certified organic produce from Victorian farms has virtually no
chemical or pesticide residues. This is great news for people looking
for clean, green and healthy foods, and who are seeking reassurance
about the quality of Victoria's organic herbs, fruit and vegetables.
Organic farms meet strict standards
Victoria has more than 300 certified organic farms, supplying a growing
market for organic and biodynamic produce in Australia and around the
Australian organic farmers have to meet stringent standards. They are
certified and monitored by independent organisations, in line with
standards set by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service
(AQIS). The aim is to produce healthy food through a system of farming
that doesn't use synthetic pesticides or fertilisers, while ensuring
animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
Major study shows minimal residues
In mid 2003, the Government of Victoria released results from the most
comprehensive survey of its kind ever conducted on Australian organic
produce. A total of 65 types of organically certified herbs, fruits and
vegetables underwent an independent and statistically valid scrutiny
for pesticide residues and other contaminants. The survey, conducted
according to international standards by the Victorian Department of
Primary Industries (DPI), found that 100% of certified organic and
biodynamic produce met national standards for residues and heavy metals
in produce. In fact, more than 99% of tested produce showed no
contamination at all from chemicals.
All samples conformed to the strict standards for acceptable levels of
pesticide residues and heavy metals in food, set by Australia's
national food safety authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
The results provide assurance that organic and biodynamic produce is
clean and uncontaminated. This is reassuring news for consumers who
choose to eat organic fruit and vegetables because they want to
minimise their dietary exposure to pesticides.
Survey for pesticide residues
Three hundred samples of organically-certified fruits, vegetables,
nuts, herbs and grains were collected from Victorian wholesale outlets.
Samples were tested for pesticides and heavy metals which have
potential to inadvertently contaminate produce. Not all of these
chemicals are used routinely in Victoria and several have long since
been banned; but it is possible that they can still be contaminating
soil on farms.
Overall, less than 1% of samples tested contained any chemical
residues. Only two samples out of 300 had any residues, and these were
at very low levels - well below the maximum permitted by legislation
and much too low to affect health. The residues were traced to
environmental contamination from historical practices; and once
identified, the problems were addressed.
How do the results compare?
Similar Victorian Government surveys on pesticide levels in
conventionally grown produce have consistently shown that Victorian
produce meets strict national and export standards for food safety.
This new data shows that Victorian organically-certified produce has
even fewer pesticide residues than conventional food crops – lower, in
fact, than that found in organic produce surveyed overseas.
Victoria has strict legislation governing the use of agricultural and
veterinary chemicals, and food produced in Victoria is regularly
monitored to ensure compliance with chemical use legislation.
Certification is the only guarantee for consumers wishing to purchase
genuine organic or biodynamic produce - so check the label to ensure
that the certifying organisation is identified. Of course, all raw
produce, whether grown by organic or conventional farmers, should be
washed before eating.
The Victorian government, together with the State's farmers, are
committed to scientifically validating claims made about the clean
quality of our fruit and vegetables. Produce was taken from growers
certified by four certifying organisations operating in Victoria:
National Association for Sustainable Agriculture (Australia),
Biological Farmers Australia, Biodynamic Research Institute Australia
and the Organic Herb Growers Association
For further information on the DPI Survey of Victorian organic and
biodynamic produce, please contact: Ruth McGowan, State Coordinator,
Horticultural Residue Management, DPI +(613) 56 24 2222, fax: (613) 56
24 2200, Post: DPI, RMB 2460, Hazeldean Road, Ellinbank, 3821,
Victoria, Australia or email: ruth.mcgowan at dpi.vic.gov.au
For further information on organic production contact the Organic
Federation of Australia (OFA), the peak industry body for the
Australian organic and biodynamic industry on http://www.ofa.org.a
DELAY OF GM RELEASES
13 June 2003
In early April 2003 the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan for
the Bayer GM canola commercial release application (DIR21) was released
for public comment. The period of consultation closed on Monday 26 May.
The application 'clock' has now been stopped on the Bayer GM canola
application (DIR21) to enable the thorough examination of all relevant
procedural issues. It is anticipated that the clock will be stopped for
approximately one month.
Meanwhile, the application 'clock' is still stopped on the Monsanto GM
canola commercial release application (DIR20) until further advice on
evaluation of herbicide use is received. When this independent advice
is provided, the Gene Technology Regulator will be able to release the
Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan for DIR20 for public
Announcements have been made recently by the New South Wales, Victorian
and Western Australian Governments on the introduction of moratoria for
GM crops in their respective States. The purpose of these moratoria is
to allow more time for marketing and trade implications (which are
outside the scope of the Gene Technology Regulator's evaluations) to be
The details of the moratoria are being finalised and South Australia is
also considering its position. All of these States have advised that
commercial scale GM canola releases will not be allowed to take place
in their States this year, even if approved on human health and safety
and environmental grounds by the Gene Technology Regulator. However,
these States have agreed to limited field trials, previously approved
by the Regulator, continuing under strictly controlled conditions in
Two sholarships are available for the 2003 Biodynamic Beginners Course
run by the Hunter Biodynamic Group. The course runs over the two days
of October 25th and 26th. The aim is the general increase of knowledge
in the community with regard to sustainable agriculture and
specifically biodynamics. Applicants need simply submit less than one
page of an explanation of why they should be sponsored.
The scholarhips have been offered for several years. The sholarship
includes course notes, lectures, lunches, morning and afternoon teas,
Saturday evening BBQ, and bus rides to farms.
For more information contact: Helen McCall, Huner Biodynamic Group
Incorproated, Telephone/Facsimile (02) 49 385 308, Mobile 0414) 385 308
ORGANIC CONSUMPTION INCREASES BUT PRICE REMAINS A BARRIER
From the QLD DPI Update
The number of environmentally conscious Queenslanders has hit an
all-time record high, yet research has found that 70 percent of
consumers are still unhappy with the price of 'clean and green'
A report by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has revealed
that consumers are becoming increasingly critical of over-priced
environmentally-friendly products. DPI Principal consultant, Dr Terry
Gatfield, said that based on data from a Roy Morgan survey, there was
an enormous opportunity for organic food producers to take advantage of
current consumer trends.
Dr Gatfield said the major barrier to total consumer acceptance was
price, and the benefits needed to be clearly communicated through
labelling, advertising and promotion.
The organic food industry was worth about $250 million to the
Australian economy, and was developing at a rate of 25 percent each
year. Almost 40 percent of all Australian organic products left the
country, Dr Gatfield said.
If you would like to receive a full copy of the report please visit the
DPI website at: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/attitude_bites/12219.html
A map is being developed for WA that locates organic and biodynamic
farms, wholesalers, retailers and other eco friendly destinations
throughout the southern half of the state. For more information contact:
colleenyates at greenskills.green.net.au
FARMERS MARKET PROCEEDINGS NOW AVAILABLE
The inaugural Australian Farmers' Markets Conference held in Bathurst
NSW in November 2002, provided the first forum of its kind for
producers and organisers in this movement to come together to share
knowledge and ideas. The result was a stimulating two days of
presentations from keynote speakers, market managers, insurance and
nutrition experts from Australia, USA and New Zealand.
If you are interested in learning more about how to get a Farmer's
Market started or where to go for more information then the Conference
Proceedings and presentations are now available at a cost of $50 (GST+
postage included). Over 100 pages of notes and ideas, facts and figures
and case studies from Australia and overseas are included in the
To order your copy of the Australian Farmers' Market Conference
Proceedings complete the attached order form and mail with payment to:
Australian Farmers Markets Association Inc, C/ PO Box 1101 Potts Point,
NSW 2011. Information: Call (02) 9360 9380 or email:
jacom at bigpond.net.au
03 Jun 2003
JAPANESE ORGANICS CONTAMINATED WITH GMO
A government inspection in Japan has found that up to 30% of soy
derived 'Organic' products such as tofu contain GM soybeans. Of the 80
products targeted by government inspectors, 20 tofu and five natto
products (a type of fermented soybean popular in Tokyo) contained
The farm ministry says it is now making checks on the offending
manufacturers to see if the mislabelling was a product of deliberate
falsification or if the GM beans were used in good faith. Japanese
consumers are only too aware that much GM material finds its way into
Japanese food owing to poor labelling of imported soybeans, said a
consumer group spokesman.
ALBANIA VOTES FOR GM BAN
The Commission of Agriculture and Food in Albanian Parliament voted for
ban of GMOs for a 5 year period and appointed the Ministry of
Environment to prepare the all legal framework for GMOs during such
period.This decision was strongly influenced by environmetal NGOs in
Albania (24 environmental NGO-s signed for "Albania GMOs free country),
scientists and academicians (45 scientists and academicians signed an
open letter to Parliament for GMOs ban in Albania), Albanian Consumer
Association and Organic Agriculture Association. Lavdosh FerruniShoqata
e Bujqesise Organike
AMERICAN ORGANIC FARMERS AT RISK OF GMO
Over three-quarters of organic farms in America are at risk from GM
contamination, according to new research, and half of the organic
farmers in the country have taken action to try to protect their
A nationwide survey conducted by the Organic Farming Research
Foundation (OFRF) in America, asked over 1,000 certified organic
farmers about the direct financial and related operational impacts
associated with the threat of contamination by GMOs. The data also
showed that 1 in 12 (8%) organic farmers have already faced direct
costs or damage because of GM contamination.
Survey respondents identified contaminated seed stock as their primary
concern as a possible source of GMO contamination of their organic farm
products. This was followed by GMO pollen drift in the field and
contaminated farm inputs such as bought-in manures and composts. Only
10 percent of survey respondents felt that a regulatory framework is in
place to adequately protect their organic farm products from damages
due to contamination from GMOs.
For details about the survey, Sustaining Organic Farms in a Changing
Organic Marketplace, contact www.ofrf.org
UK SAYS 'NO' DESPITE GOVERNMENT
8 June 2003
UK supermarkets have told Tony Blair they will refuse to stock GM
foods, even if he manages to persuade a sceptical public to accept them.
The British Retail Consortium, which represents 90 per cent of
high-street shops, has sent an unequivocal warning to the Government
that GM food is not commercially viable in the UK. It argues that,
while consumer antipathy towards the biotech industry remains so
entrenched, major retailers such as Tesco and Sainsbury's will resist
any move to stock GM products.
Their united stance threatens the Prime Minister with the embarrassing
scenario where GM crops are commercialised, yet no major outlets will
sell them. David Southwell, of the BRC, confirmed it had made its
position clear to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs and the Food Standards Agency, adding, "The customer is where
the real power lies. Supermarkets are not going to give shelf space to
something that doesn't sell."
Sainsbury's, whose former chief Lord Sainsbury, the Science Minister,
remains a staunch advocate of GM, confirmed it been in talks with the
Government over GM food. The spokesman said the supermarket giant had
no choice but to continue rejecting the technology as long as customers
'made it clear' they did not want GM produce.
SUPERWEEDS MAY SCUPPER GM CROPS
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
23 June 2003
The dispute over genetically modified crops will intensify today with
news of the evolution of "superweeds", which are resistant to the
powerful weedkillers that GM crops were engineered to tolerate.
The development, which comes as the sacked former environment minister
Michael Meacher puts himself at the head of the anti-GM campaign, will
be seized on by opponents of the technology as undermining its
It means that bigger quantities of weedkillers - not less, as the
biotechnology companies have claimed - will be needed in GM-crop
fields, adding to the already intensive agriculture that has wiped out
much of Britain's farmland wildlife in the past four decades. Monsanto,
the GM market leader, confirmed to The Independent at the weekend that
its solution for dealing with resistant weeds was to apply different
weedkillers in new ways.
In yesterday's Independent on Sunday, Mr Meacher accused Tony Blair, a
GM supporter, of seeking to bury health warnings about GM produce by
"rushing to desired conclusions which cannot be scientifically
The revelations about superweeds have been communicated to the
Government by an American academic specialising in weed control, who
has posted a paper on the website of the official GM science review,
led by Professor David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser.
This will report soon in advance of a long-delayed decision, due this
autumn, on whether GM crops should be commercialised in Britain.
The paper, by Professor Bob Hartzler of the Department of Agronomy at
Iowa State University, reveals that in the past seven years, up to five
weed species have been found with resistance to the herbicide
glyphosate, best known by the Monsanto trade name Roundup. The
resistance has come about not through gene transfer from GM
herbicide-tolerant crops, as some have feared, but through natural
Glyphosate is a "broad spectrum" herbicide, meaning that, originally,
it killed everything, including crops. GM crops were developed to be
tolerant of the herbicide, so it could be applied throughout the
Two GM crops proposed for commercial growth in Britain, fodder beet and
sugar beet, are glyphosate-tolerant. But weeds have been found in
Australia, Chile, Malaysia and California and other areas of the US,
that glyphosate cannot kill.
Greg Elmore, Monsanto's US technical manager for soybeans, said
Monsanto was taking seriously the question of glyphosate resistance,
tackling it with "weed control management practices".
With soybeans, he said, resistant weeds were controlled with a
pre-planting "burn-down" (which kills everything), using 2,4-D, another
At least three of the resistant weeds had evolved where glyphosate was
being used with non-GM crops, he said, adding that it was far from the
only weedkiller for which weeds had evolved resistance - as many as 70
weeds were resistant to some weedkillers.
Pete Riley, Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, said: "Companies like
Monsanto have spun GM crops and their weedkillers as having less impact
on the environment, but the fact of resistant weeds undoubtedly means
more weedkillers, and means the impact on the environment will be
"These discoveries remove a central plank from the whole argument for
Yesterday, Mr Meacher listed a series of reports and findings
suggesting that the full impact of GM technology was still dangerously
unpredictable. Many of the health tests carried out were
"scientifically vacuous", he said.
Media services: journalism-print/ online/ photo
pacedge at magna.com.au Phone/ fax: 02 9588 6931
PO Box 446 Kogarah NSW 2217 Australia
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