“The organic sector is like a living laboratory. It allows us to look at practices that we have forgotten or ignored.”
The comment came from Anastassios Haniotis, Director of Strategy, Simplification and Policy Analysis in the Directorate General for Agriculture of the European Commission at least week’s European Organic Congress, in a series of contributions from senior EU officials underlining organic’s key role in transitioning towards a more sustainable and fairer agriculture across the bloc.
In his presentation, Haniotis said that organic had a particular role to play in knowledge transfer as part of “a crucial need to increase the overall ambition in the quality of soil and the treatment of land”.
Elaborating, Haniotis said: “The organic sector is like a living laboratory. It allows us to look at practices that we have forgotten or ignored, and what they bring in terms of allowing us to improve soil management, which brings benefits to water and biodiversity at the same time, while telling us what works in specific environments and and what doesn’t.
“If we need to bring solutions to other sectors, organic is at the front tier of this experiment, and it will be extremely important in finding ways of transferring knowledge acquired by organic practices to other areas.”
Earlier in the same Congress session, which focussed on food system resilience in a post-Covid future, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, European Commission (pictured opposite), said that organic farming was “without doubt the part of the solution” and that the Commission was committed to “stepping up our efforts to stimulate the uptake of organic”.
Sustainability is bankable
She also emphasised the crucial role that consumers would need to play in achieving the 25%-organic-by-2030 goal. “Consumers are a real driver of change… Sustainability is bankable, when consumers demand it. This is why we will promote organic food, support green public procurement, and increase the share of organic in public catering systems and expand organic canteens.
“Later this year we will propose a new organic action plan for organic farming for the next five years. And this will be an important instrument to a company growth in the future. We should grasp this opportunity for Europe’s farmers and food producers to become global leaders in sustainability and guarantee the future of the EU food chain.”
Thomas Waitz, MEP, Co-Chair, European Green Party, told the Congress that health had “become a crucial part of public debate during the Covid-19 crisis” putting the relationship between healthy food production and biodiversity into sharp focus. He insisted that “public money for public goods” should be the principal model for the agrifood system, and that all strategies should focus on making sure farmers can make a living ands protect the environment by raising standards.
• The European Organic Congress 2020, organised jointly by IFOAM Organics Europe and the German Association of Organic Farmers, Food Processors and Retailers (BÖLW), took place on 1-3 July as a digital event.