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[Duurzaamlijst] FAO says organic farming can reduce hunger

No. 20, Newsletter on Organic Seeds (05.04.2001)

Gene for plant maturation was found - new GE plants?
IFOAM press release: Genetic pollution is threatening consumers' right to choose
USA: Biotech grain in millions of bushels of corn
Bioengineered rice loses glow as vitamin A source
FAO says organic farming can reduce hunger (full text below)
US organic industry demands that biotech seed companies guarantee GE-free seed
Monsanto pulls GE-potatoes off the market
Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser
Live poll: would you eat GE-rice?

FAO says organic farming can reduce hunger

Organic agriculture has the potential to boost the incomes and food security of developing
countries, but distribution problems will hinder the war on hunger, says the United
Nations' world food body. The Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
believes that organic farming is a safe way of growing food and is not subject to the
possible health and environmental risks associated with genetically modified (GM) foods.

Caught between the two diametrically opposed systems, the FAO, committed to eradicating
hunger, sees the potential benefits of GM crops in terms of boosting yields to feed the
poor, but insists that all precautions must be taken to ensure safety.

"Increasing organic farm production at a national level does not mean you can distribute
to everyone," Nadia Scialabba, FAO environment officer and organic farming expert, told
Reuters.  "The value of organic farming is the prevention of the unknown problems that
come with intensification," she added, referring to recent food scares linked to
industrial farming, such as mad cow disease and worries over GM crops.

Rich countries, such as the United States and those in the European Union, already produce
substantial food surpluses.  The problem lies in how to distribute food efficiently to the
hungry, whether it is produced intensively or organically.

An FAO document, made available to Reuters, said: "Conventional systems of production have
generated high environmental costs in many cases, and their reliance upon externally
supplied inputs creates barriers to access amongst the poorest segments of the population.
Organic agricultural production based upon cheap, locally available materials and
technologies provides an important alternative in the search for an environmentally sound
and equitable solution to the problem of food security."

The FAO believes it is important for developing countries to certify organic food products
so they can compete on international markets. Provided that producers of these countries
are able to certify their products and access lucrative markets, returns from organic
agriculture can potentially contribute to food security by increasing incomes.

Scialabba said that governments need to invest in training farmers how to produce food
organically. While organic agriculture does not require expensive inputs, farmers need to
follow strict practices in order to certify produce as organic.

Source: Reuters cited in Organic Newsline from organicTS.com Vol 2 Issue 9, 8 March 2001

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