11 August 1995
First Organic World Exhibition and International Conference on Organic Agriculture opens in Copenhagen
Copenhagen in these days forms the framework for the year's largest international ecological events, the First Organic World Exhibition and the 11th Scientific IFOAM Conference on Organic Agriculture with participants from 92 countries.
"By now we have managed to create international fora for negotiations on important global environmental problems such as climate changes, biodiversity and hazardous chemicals. I hope the enormous interest in the subject of ecology and the marvellous results shown by organic producers, that we see presented here today, will persuade the international community to pay equal attention to the question of environmentally sound food production", so said the Danish Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr Svend Auken, when he officially opened the First Organic World Exhibition in Copenhagen, Saturday.
The First Organic World Exhibition comprises 300 exhibits from around the world that with a broad cross section of organic products demonstrates how far ecology and organic agriculture has progressed over the past decades. The exhibition also offers debates, experimental theatre, fashion shows, film, organic architecture, straw playgrounds, a supermarket and the presentation of the world's first international ecological prizes.
Mr Auken continued: "All parties involved must make an effort to ensure that conversion to organic production methods continues. Farmers and retailers must dare make the change, consumers must support them and governments must encourage a change by strengthening research and education, removing barriers, supporting cooperation across sectorial and national borders and securing demand. It is reassuring that consumers have become more aware of the great influence they have and are more determined to use it.
Ecological awareness is no longer reserved to a small group of green freaks. Organic products no longer have a reputation of being "exclusive" and "odd", but have become popular. The concept of sustainability will probably have to be viewed in a wider perspective as well. And then we will have to ask ourselves the critical questions: can we afford to convert completely to organic farming? Or can we afford not to? In order to judge properly we must have an extended concept of economics. Linked to the economic calculation are social and ethical dimensions."
The Indian feminist, physicist and philosopher, Dr Vandana Shiva, took up the thread of Mr Auken remarks by saying: "We have hands, minds and hearts in abundance to produce organic food. Input has been most obvious in the Third World. And now with jobless growth a phenomenon even in the industrialised countries, the organic system is the only way of providing relevance for future generations. Because every other system is pushing them out, rendering people absolutely dispensible to the economic production system. We need places where people can find new, relevant and significant meaning to life. Studies show that when ex-prisoners become involved in organic gardening, crime levels come down.
Where organic gardening and experiments have been initiated for teenagers in down-town areas in the US, these young people have given up their lives of violence. This represents the way forward not just because agriculture is about producing food but because it gives people a meaning to life. I think our biggest crisis right now at the end of the millenium and at the beginning of the next is the hopelessness and the sense of being wasted that is running through all societies in the world like an epidemic."
On Sunday 11th August the Danish Minister of Agriculture, Mr Henrik Dam Kristensen, welcomed about 1000 participants from around the world to Copenhagen for the 11th Scientific IFOAM Conference on Organic Agriculture which will continue until Thursday. The Conference will reflect the changes organic farming has undergone over the past decades and will highlight organic farming as a possible solution to the world's threatening hunger problems. The UN organisation for food and agriculture, FAO, is sending an official representative in the person of Dr Tito E. Contado from FAOs department for sustainable development. The results of the conference will be presented at the closing session on Thursday afternoon and the final document will be handed over to the FAO as a proposal to the FAO World Food Summit in November.
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