Reflections on the past, outlook for the future. F15
Woodward, L.1, Vogtmann, H.2
1) Elm Farm Research Centre, UK. 2) Hessisches Landesamt fur Regionalentwicklung und Landwirtschaft, Germany.
|The primary interests of the founders and early
members of IFOAM was research and the technical development of organic agriculture.
Although their major concerns have a familiar ring today - research approaches, soil
fertility, nutrient supply, weeds, pests, disease and food quality - others have emerged
as the IFOAM membership has expanded and changed its character.
It now accomodates groups and individuals from all continents and all activities ranging from international traders to land reform and poverty action. Their concerns are disparate - from standards and regulation governing large scale food production, processing and trade to techniques and organisation for small scale and local food security. For nearly twenty years the unifying factors have been the unquestioned belief that organic agriculture was the one genuinely sustainable way of food production and the innocent assumption that an increase in the number of organic farmers would assist in achieving the particular and diverse goals of the membership. Today it is clear that the organic agriculture of the EU Regulation, of the food industry and trade is at odds with the fundamental principles which IFOAM originally established. It is likely that the aspirations of different IFOAM members conflict with those of others. For sometime we have acknowledged only our superficial similarities and ignored our fundamental differences. Because of the parlous state of our planet's environment, the economic and social plight of peoples in all parts of the world and the vital contribution that we can make in addressing these issues, we cannot hide away from ourselves any longer. Nearly twenty years after its first conference the international Organic Movement stands at a crossroads. One direction is to embrace the global economy and to seek its "greening". In effect, to participate in the fallacy of sustainable development. The other route is to work on a regional basis according to the principles of closed nutrient cycles, decentralised organisation, appropriate technology and within the context of local democracy and culture. We hope it will choose the latter direction.