[permaculture] Aust organics news

Russ Grayson 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...

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  
Macdonald said.

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,  
he said.

"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


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

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

 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

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

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  
gene-modified soybeans.

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.

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

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

8 June 2003

The Observer:  
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.

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  
growing season.

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  
GM crops."

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.

Russ Grayson
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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