The 11rd IFOAM Scientific Conference|
August 11, 1996
Chairman, The Danish Association of Organic Agriculture
The associations members are people like yourselves - organic farmers, consumers, researchers and educators - who work together on all fronts to promote organic farming. We are very proud to host both the conference and the World Organic Exhibition.
As a small association with fifteen hundred members, we have to admit that we couldn´t have pulled off this ambitious project alone. In addition to the hardworking organisers and volunteers who have pulled the conference and exhibition together, I am glad to have the opportunity to thank Minister of the Environment Svend Auken and the Green Fond for support to the World Organic Exhibition.
I especially want to thank our progressive Minister of Agriculture Henrik Dam Kristensen for thee Financial and political support which the Ministry of Agriculture has given to the conference, to the World Exhibition and to the development and organic farming in Denmark. We thank you.
The fact is that this conference is pretty typical and the kind of collaboration that has given Danish organic farming such a boost in recent years. We have a handful of organic farmers, researchers and small associations working overtime to get things off the ground. We have support from consumers. We have support from the major farm organisations and labour, through the ministers Council on Organic Agriculture and we have the national government stepping in with resources.
The Danish government now supports the development of organic farming at
virtually every critical link. The work is long from finished but we now have an
ambitious research program, support for product development, an ongoing
information campaign aimed at consumers and the food industry a system of
technical assistance to organic farmers, a subsidy program for conversion and,
not least, a credible state organic control. A major challenge for the
conference participants here from Europe will be the building of similar support
from the European community. We must have a European agricultural policy.
We must do more than work on common standards for organic production. We must go after European agricultural policy head on. We want to by more than a niche production.
It says something about the times that, in order to be allowed to farm as I want to, I must have allies in many countries. I must understand and engage myself in the development of agricultural policy on a European and global level.
Just consider the production standards for organic farming. Fifteen years ago, we started a little association which hammered out a set of rules. then the Danish state development rules and later the European Community. Now we try to influence the new global rules, Codex Alimentarius. Our next task will probably be negotiations with the martians on galactic organic rules for cattle farming.
Common standards and agricultural policy are very important, and IFOAMs role is critical as rules and policies are set further and further afield. But we must remember that it is the local work which ignites many farmers interest in organic farming. The power of example is tremendous. But conversion also requires that we reach out to farmers, one-by-one.
We are here to talk about rules and research and marketing. But organic agriculture is also about what is in the hearts of every person who works the land. I want common rules with organic farmers in Argentina and Tanzania, but more important is what I already share with organic farmers throughout the world: the knowledge that I have borrowed the land from my children.
In agricultural debate, it is often said that organic farming cannot feed the world. We disagree. Organic farming cannot eliminate hunger overnight. But by emphasising development of human resources, sustainable agricultural practices, and use of local resources, organic farming provides a better basis for development. This is certainly the case in countries where hunger is caused by social, political and environmental conditions. But organic farming is also - for the same reasons - promising for our depopulated rural areas in Scandinavia.
Organic agriculture is our answer to the question "How should food be
produced ?" but it is also our answer to the question "Who decides how
food will be produced ?". It is farmers and consumers who must decide.
Organic farming frees us today from a number of powerful agribusiness interests
- such as those which produce fertilizers and pesticides and which now would
like to sell us genetically modified plants, animals, enzymes and Heaven knows
I have confidence that all of the dedicated people here will be working at one or more of these levels for many years to come. Our Associations goal here in Denmark is total conversion of Danish agriculture - that will certainly take several decades to accomplish. We are very happy and proud today to have the opportunity to learn from your experiences and knowledge. With these words I will conclude my address.
Once again, a hearty welcome. And thank you for coming !
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