Organic Federation of Australia

Organic Update May 2006

Early Bird Discounts for National Conference
The early bird discounts for the 3rd OFA National Organic Conference finish on May 30. The early bird registration fee of $300 ($250 for OFA members) is a substantial discount and good value for a 2 day conference. The program and registration details can be found on our website – or contact Mary Hackett: 02 9319 1228

Held in conjunction with the Organic Expo – the weekend of July 22 and 23 is shaping up to be the highlight for the organic year. These events will be an unparalleled opportunity to listen to a range of organic experts, see the full extent of organic products and services and most importantly, meet with others who are interested in all things organic.

Welcome to Tim Marshall and Thanks to Paul Dargusch
I would like to welcome Tim Marshall to the OFA Board. Tim replaces Paul Dargusch, who has resigned due to other commitments. Paul recently resigned as the CEO of BFA/ACO because he has started in another job. On behalf of the OFA board I would like to thank Paul for his contribution to the OFA and wish him the best in his new position. George Devrell, the Chair of NASAA replaces Paul as the Chair of the OFA Certifiers Advisory Board.

Tim Marshall is well known as Australia’s leading journalist on Organic Agriculture. He is the BFA/ACO representative on the OFA Certifiers Advisory Board and a member of the BFA standards committee. Tim has a long history in the organic sector having been the Chair of NASAA and a previous OFA board member.

The OFA Has a New Secretariat
I would like to congratulate Cathrine De Danann who has been appointed to run the secretariat for the OFA.

Expressions of interest for the Secretariat were sent out in February by advertising in the OFA Organic Update and by approaching companies that supply secretarial services. Three excellent respondents were short-listed. Colleen Yates, a board member, contacted the respondents and their referees with a series of questions that resulted from a Board Meeting in early April. She compiled a matrix that the board used to pick the successful applicant.

Best regards
Andre Leu

Australian Organic News

ECOV a great success.
The inaugural EcoV – The Organics and Sustainability Show in Bendigo was very successful. The event had numerous exhibitors and a steady stream of visitors. The stalls featured a wide range of products and services that appeal to every one from consumers to producers. The exhibition also had two rooms where industry experts gave interesting presentations over the three days.

This was the first event of its type in a regional city and we look forward to seeing it grow every year.

The Hon Sussan Ley, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry opened the show. Ms Ley took the time to meet with producers, processors, consumers and stall holders and was particularly impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and sense of common purpose evident at EcoV, which she said augured well for the industry’s future.

Ms Ley who has the ministerial responsibility for organic agriculture stated: "Many Australian farm enterprises have taken the opportunity to convert to organic production systems. In fact, it is estimated that the number of organic producers will increase by 20 to 30 per cent within the next three years, as they gain full certification. However, more will be needed to meet the projected demand."

Ms Ley pointed out that the industry still faces many challenges, and must work together under the leadership of the Organic Federation of Australia to ensure continued success.

World Organic News

The New Zealand Organic Sector Receives $3.8 million
The New Zealand Government has demonstrated its commitment to the organic sector by funding Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), the peak industry body for NZ$3.8 million.

The funding has been divided into two parts:
1. Seed funding of $NZ 1.5 million to the year ending 30th June 2008 to run OANZ
2. Funding of $NZ 2.3 million for the three years to 30 June 2009 to establish an organic advisory service.

Doug Voss, the chair of OANZ, thanked the Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton, and the Green Party for their joint agreement of $NZ 2.3 million to fund an organics advisory service. "The Green Party initiative will allow for New Zealand’s first nationally co-ordinated organic advisory service," Mr Voss said.

"OANZ has a goal of $1 billion of organic sales by 2013. The advisory service is needed to lead New Zealand down the path of sustainable farming and adding value to New Zealand’s primary produce. This will establish organics as the leading edge of sustainable farming."

Consumer Demand for Organics Explode Whilst Supply Dwindles
Not enough U.S. farmers are finding it possible to make the transition to organic production, according to a January 2006 marketing report from the research firm Organic Monitor in London. Domestic consumers are buying record amounts of organic foods, but farmers are unable to meet that demand, resulting in $1.5 billion of organic crops imported into the U.S. in 2005.

This means that 10% of all organic sales in the U.S. today are imports. In comparison, U.S. organic exports amount to a meager $150 million. In the European Union, government programs help conventional farmers make the transition to organic production with subsidies and technical assistance. "Unless more American farmers consider converting to organic practices, exporters are likely to capitalize on this lucrative market," the report said.

Better Organization of Organics in Africa
Chido Makunike, the new organizer of IFOAM in Africa, has announced the publication of a regular newsletter of the Africa Organic Service Center. The Africa Organic Newsletter will appear monthly and be used in addition to the Africa page of IFOAM’s website to highlight conferences, workshops and organic events of interest in Africa and elsewhere. As another part of its outreach and information dissemination work, IFOAM is establishing several information Contact Points across Africa. Their role will be to provide a two-way mechanism for information exchange between IFOAM and organic stakeholders.

Spain: More Organic Land
The area of organically farmed land in Spain increased by 10 % to 807,569 ha in 2005. The number of processors grew by 8 % and the total number of industrial processing firms to 2002, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA). 14 % of these firms process and fill fresh horticultural produce and 12 % are wineries and bottling firms for wine.

The minister Elena Espinosa pointed out that according to a study by the ministry’s Supervisory Authority for Consumption and Marketing on the consumption of organic products, 72.5 % of Spanish consumers have already heard of organic food.

India: Organic Cotton Better Than Bt Cotton
The benefits of organic cotton seem to clearly outweigh those of Bt Cotton. The cultivation cost of Bt Cotton was 67 % higher and it generated at least 37 % less income than organic cotton. The study conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh was based on monitoring of 120 Bt cotton fields in five districts of Andhra Pradesh and 123 non-pesticidal management (NPM)/organic cotton farmers from four districts.

"Bt cotton not only fails to meet the promises made by the companies in their marketing propaganda, but also fares badly compared to non-Bt cotton, especially NPM/organic approaches to cotton cultivation," said Executive Director Ramanjaneyulu of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

Organic Supermarket Chain Continues to Grow
Whole Foods now has 181 stores throughout the U.S., Canada and the UK. The company went public in 1991 with just 10 stores, about 1,100 employees and a stock selling at USD 4.25 a share. Now Whole Foods has nearly 40,000 employees and a stock price trading in the USD 65 range. Whole Foods closed its fiscal year in last September with USD 4.7 billion in sales and a USD 136 million profit. The goals are USD 12 billion in sales by 2010, reports

Chemical News

2,4-D Persuasively Liked to Cancers
According to an article published in the Paediatrics & Child Health, the official journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society, 2,4-D, the most common herbicide used to kill weeds in grass, is linked to cancers and other serious health problems.

The researchers stated ‘… the balance of epidemiological research suggests that 2,4-D can be persuasively linked to cancers, neurological impairment and reproductive problems.’

The researchers stated that: ‘The 2,4-D assessment does not approach standards for ethics, rigour or transparency in medical research. Canada needs a stronger regulator for pesticides. Potentially toxic chemicals should not be registered when more benign solutions exist, risks are not clearly quantifiable or potential risks outweigh benefits.’ Source: Canadian Paediatric Society:

Agricultural Pesticides Pollute Pristine Snow
Researchers from Oregon State University, USGS and US EPA have found agricultural pesticides in the pristine snow at Mount Rainier, Sequoia and two other national parks in Colorado and Montana. The pesticide residues found include currently used pesticides; chlorpyrifos, dacthal and endosulfan as well older organochlorine pesticides now banned in the United States.

The researchers found that these pesticides have volatilised from farming areas many hundreds of kilometres away from the pristine national parks and condensed as rain or snow. This research is consistent with studies in Europe showing that most rain samples have pesticide residues.

Pesticides in 60 % of Conventional Food
According to a report by the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, in Germany, 60% of tested food contains pesticide residues

The testing found that lettuces, peppers, grapes, berries, cucumbers and apricots were most contaminated.

Pesticides Effects Native Americans
Native Americans in Sonora, Mexico (Yaqui), are seeing an increase in birth defects, while young people are dying from cancer after working without protective clothing with pesticides in agricultural fields near their villages.

Francisco Villegas Paredes, Yaqui from Vicam village, said doctors have confirmed that the birth defects and cancers are the result of working in fields where these dangerous pesticides and chemicals are being used by farmers.
For more information: Villegas Paredes, Calle Cocorit No. 15, Vicam Sonora, Mexico;

High Levels of Arsenic Found in Non-Organic Chicken
A survey conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has found arsenic in the majority of supermarket and fast food chicken products in the USA

The study found that 55 percent of uncooked supermarket chicken products carried detectable arsenic and 100% of the fast food chickens had arsenic. The most contaminated samples had arsenic ten times higher than the least contaminated.

The tests of organic chicken showed no arsenic, as it is not allowed in organic production systems.

Arsenic is intentionally fed to around 70% non organic chicken in the USA as an anti microbial to increase growth rates, according to IATP estimates. Source: The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Common Soap Antiseptic Found in U.S. Crop Fields
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University estimated that more than 70 percent of the triclocarban used by consumers is released to the environment when treated sludge is put on land used, in part, for food production. Triclocarban ( TCC) and a related compound, triclosan, are widely used in soaps and detergents as an anti microbial.

"When it degrades, it forms an animal carcinogen," said Rolf Halden of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who led the study. Writing in the June issue of Environmental Science & Technology, Halden said his studies suggest triclocarban, or TCC, contaminates 60 percent of the U.S. water supply and contaminated all the streams in the greater Baltimore area.

"There is very little data out on the role of triclocarban," he said. "The irony is that we have used it for a half century and we are only beginning to learn what happens to this chemical after we are done with it."

"Ironically, the FDA determined that there is no measurable benefit to the average consumer from using these products. Everyone agrees that washing your hands is good, but there is little difference between using soap and using antimicrobial soap," Halden said.

"But it tells us how shortsighted we are in producing these chemicals, first without demonstrated need, and we have to ask why we are releasing these chemicals at high volume if they do no good and only cause problems down the road." Source: Reuters


Sponsorship of Journal of Organic Systems (JOS)
Brendan Hoare and Dr. Els Wynen, the founding directors of the Journal of Organic Systems are looking for founding sponsors for the project

Over the last two years leaders from within the organic community in Australia and New Zealand have come together to establish a scientific journal particular to Organic Systems and our global bio-region. Over the last six decades the body of Organic Systems knowledge has reached a point where it requires more effective and diverse communication. This is in line with international trends where we have seen the emergence of new journals on organic agriculture and, more recently, collaboration between regions and institutes to form international scientific-based groups, eg .

The directors believe that knowledge about ‘Organic Systems’ in the Pacific region is unique enough as to warrant its own voice. JOS aims to encourage communication amongst researchers, practitioners, technical transfer experts and project leaders in organic agriculture at the international, bio-regional, national and local level. While seeking to primarily serve the South Pacific, it reaches out to Asia and surrounding regional neighbours.

JOS will be published electronically using, initially on a basis as material arrives, which we expect to be bi-annual. As JOS grows in popularity and publishable material mounts, there will be the ability for it to be published more frequently.

JOS will publish peer-reviewed papers that focus on developments in production, processing, marketing and trade, land-use methodologies in organic systems, and regulatory and certification criteria in the regions. It will also include a forum on different current issues, student research, resources and links and hot links to sponsors.

JOS is to be launched at the Organic National Conference / Expo in Sydney on 22-23 July 2006.

For More Information: Brendan Hoare and Dr. Els Wynen
PO Box 95005, Swanson, Waitakere City, New Zealand. Email:

Buying and Selling Organic Food Guide
A new guide is on sale that offers an insight into the Australian organic industry including its main players; what is organic food and why an increasing number of people buy it; and how to prevent being misled.

The Buying and Selling Organic Food Guide includes important information on planning, certification (and how to become certified), the do’s and don’ts of marketing, advertising and labelling and a summary of consumer protection and other regulation in relation to organic food

The Guide also provides advice to suppliers who support sustainable agriculture, but sell little certified organic food, on how to improve practices. The Guide has been endorsed by the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA).
For further information contact the author John Furbank. 0423 515.134


Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Workshop Program 2006
Mt Gambier SA 15/16 May Introduction to biodynamics
Albany WA 29/30 May Introduction to biodynamics
Cowaramup WA 1, 2 June Biodynamics for viticulture and horticulture
Perth WA 5th June Introduction to biodynamics -Not FarmBi$
Beerwah QLD 22/23 June Biodynamics for horticulture
Mt Barker SA Spring Biodynamics for viticulture and horticulture
Mansfield Vic 30 Sept A MALT farm project – Introduction to biodynamics
Theodore, Qld 10/11 October Antipodean Astro Calendar and biodynamics

The Growing Potential for Organic Produce
Wednesday 17th May 2006, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
The Seminar Room, Cardinia Cultural Centre, Lakeside Boulevard, Pakenham 3810
Contact: Barrie Pickersgill, Agribusiness Officer Cardinia Shire Council and City of Casey
Ph: (03) 5945 0404 or (03) 9705 5393

Grow Organic 2006
Bairnsdale, Victoria - 20th and 21st May
Specialist organic speakers "From paddock to plate"
Also, organic product stalls, work-shops, on site accommodation and exquisite organic catering.
Enquiries & bookings: Organic Agriculture Association Inc. 03 5152 2276 or 03 5157 1586

Eursafe 2006 - Ethics and the Politics of Food
21st to the 24th of June 2006 in Oslo, Norway

Organic Expo: organics for everyone, Sydney July 21-23
The 2006 Show will feature:
* Celebrity endorsement & appearances
* Key industry speakers & involvement
* Premier Location @ Sydney Exhibition Centre
* Creative Layout & Exciting Interest Features
* Organic Café
* Highly successful and proven show
Phone - 02 9451 4747 Email -

The Third OFA National Organic Conference July 22-3 2006
Darling Harbour Sydney Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd July 2006 in conjunction with the Organic Expo.

1st IFOAM International Conference on Animals in Organic Production,
23-25 August 2006 in Minneapolis USA. For more information

The 2nd OPAQ Queensland Organic Conference
Beerwah Queensland September 1&2 2006
Contact Keith Morris Ph 0500581469

Managing the Carbon Cycle
Horsham, Victoria 26-27th July 2006
This information packed two day ‘Managing the Carbon Cycle’ Forum will showcase emerging initiatives and innovative management practices in the rapidly changing arena of carbon accounting and trading in ‘carbon credits’ and will be of enormous benefit to policy makers, research, agency and consultancy staff, landholders, landcarers, conservation farming groups, catchment management authorities, educators, students and environmentalists.

For more info:

International Landcare Conference
Melbourne Convention Centre, Victoria, Oct 8-11
For More Information 03 96456311

Veg Out Farmers’ Market
1st Saturday of every month 8.30am-1pm
Chaucer Street, St Kilda (just behind Acland Street and Luna Park)

Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmers’ Market
2nd Saturday every month 8.00am–1pm
St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

Gasworks Farmers’ Market
3rd Sat every month 8.30am–1pm
Graham Street, Albert Park. (cnr Pickles St)

Organic Update is a publication of the Organic Federation of Australia
Phone +61 1300 657 435
PO Box 166 Oakleigh South Vic 3167 Australia