On behalf of the Directors on the OFA, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful festive season and all the best for 2009.

Kind Regards,

Andre Leu


Federal Minister for Agriculture Supports Soil Carbon
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, has acknowledged that the current Kyoto rules are not fair for the farm sector, arguing there is no reason why well-managed pastures not be considered for their carbon storage capabilities.

Mr Burke said the next international agreement on climate change needed to match new science which would help bring more agricultural production into the carbon-capture fold.

Mr Burke said the government was working its way through the issues to advance a "framework" to be part of a global carbon pollution reduction scheme which would put Australia's primary producers "on a much better footing than under the current accounting rules".
The OFA has been very active in putting the need for including soil carbon in the proposed carbon trading scheme. Source: http://www.farmonline.com.au

OFA Soils Submission
National Committee on Soil and Terrain has started a process of looking at options for restoring the health of Australian soils. Australia’s soils have been degraded by inappropriate land use causing a decline in soil organic matter and the need for ever increasing levels of synthetic fertilisers and other chemicals to maintain production.

There is a growing body of published peer reviewed scientific studies showing that organic farming systems can restore degraded soils and ensure long term soil health with flow on production benefits such as better water and nutrient use efficiency and resilient production outcomes. This is achieved through a range of strategies, with the primary strategy being to build up soil organic carbon through the recycling of organic matter – hence the name organic farming.

The OFA submission provided an overview of some of the peer reviewed scientific studies into the multiple benefits of organic farming systems when it comes to soil. We hope that the National Committee on Soil and Terrain will take the time to look at these studies and consider the benefits of including best practice organic systems as a part of the many strategies that will be needed to restore Australia’s degraded soils and maintain sustainable production systems.

Journal of Organic Systems
The next issue of JOS is now posted at: www.organic-systems.org. The Journal of Organic Systems is an online journal that on a wide range of organic issues, research and development in the Asia Pacific region. The OFA is a founding sponsor.

Organic Gardener Magazine Celebrates 10th Year
Organic Gardener Magazine is celebrating its 10th year Anniversary with the new issue coming out in December. The Organic Gardener continues to grow. It is now a bi-monthly publication covering a wide range of interesting and useful organic information. It is available in nearly all newsagents, ABC Shops and by subscription.

BIOFACH, Nuremberg, Germany, February 19 –22, 2009
The Organic Federation of Australia (OFA) will run the Australian Stands at BioFach, the world’s largest organic trade fair.

More than 2,600 exhibitors presented their products to 46,484 trade visitors from 116 countries at BioFach 2008.

For more information read about the cost participating in BioFach Nuremberg 2009:


New Natural & Organic Cosmetic Standard Launched in Europe
Several major European certification bodies have joined forces to develop a base standard for natural and organic cosmetics. The Soil Association (UK), BDiH (Germany), Ecocert (France), Cosmebio (France), AIAB (Italy) and Ecogarantie (Belgium) have developed the Cosmos Standard which will be available in January 2009.

The agreement sets minimum standards for natural cosmetics and organic cosmetics, however the agencies will still be able to develop separate standards as long as the baselines are met. The move is analogous to what has occurred in the organic food industry where the EU has minimum standards for organic agriculture and food products.

1st Conference on Organic Animal and Plant Breeding "Breeding Diversity"
IFOAM is calling for Papers for the 1st Conference on Organic Animal and Plant Breeding "Breeding Diversity" on August 25-28 in Santa Fe; New Mexico; USA

Organic plant and animal breeding are now gaining momentum in several parts of the world. The organizers are inviting abstracts in either organic animal or plant breeding, or both. Papers that cover the interconnectedness and overlap of plant and animal breeding are especially desired.

Deadline for the abstract is February 1st 2009.

The submission form is available on the conference page of the IFOAM website www.ifoam.org
or directly from the IFOAM Head Office. For further information, please contact the events coordinator Zoe Heuschkel at the IFOAM Head Office (conference@ifoam.org).

IFOAM is Recruiting an Executive Director
IFOAM is now recruiting an Executive Director who will lead the organization from the Head Office in Bonn in Bonn, Germany. The Executive Director is accountable to the Board of Directors for leading and managing the operations of the organisation. The person appointed will need to demonstrate leadership success, preferrably in international non-governmental organisations. The job description and more details are available at: http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/inside_ifoam/pdfs/

Applications close on 1 January, 2009.


Pesticide Cocktails Decimate Frogs
University of Pittsburgh scientists have found that commonly occurring pesticides, when mixed together, can decimate amphibian populations despite the concentrations of the individual chemicals being within limits considered safe.

The scientist stated that these chemical cocktails of contaminants are frequently detected in nature, yet investigations of the effects of diverse contaminant mixtures in aquatic communities are rare.

Associate Professor Rick Relyea, the study's lead author, stated ”…the mix of all ten pesticides eliminated 99% of leopard frogs. Interestingly, these mixtures did not cause mortality in the gray tree frogs and, as a result, the gray tree frogs grew nearly twice as large due to reduced competition with leopard frogs. In short, wetland communities can be dramatically impacted by low concentrations of pesticides (both separate and combined) and these results offer important insights for the conservation of wetland communities.” Source: the journal Oecologia.

Early-life Exposure to Organophosphate Liked to Diabetes and Obesity
Scientists from the Duke University Medical Center in the USA have found that neonatal exposure to small levels of a pesticide causes permanent health effects later in life. The study showed changes that disrupted the glucose and lipid metabolisms leading to diabetes and obesity.

The scientists stated “Developmental exposures to organophosphate pesticides are virtually ubiquitous. These agents are neurotoxicants, but recent evidence also points to lasting effects on metabolism.”

The researchers administered parathion to neonatal rats. They assessed the impact on weight gain, food consumption, and glucose and lipid homeostasis, as well as the interaction with the effects of a high-fat diet when the rates were adults.

The scientists concluded “Neonatal low-dose parathion exposure disrupts glucose and fat homeostasis in a persistent and sex-selective manner. Early-life toxicant exposure to organophosphates or other environmental chemicals may play a role in the increased incidence of obesity and diabetes.”

This study adds to the growing list of peer reviewed science showing that exposure to small amounts of pesticides is linked to diabetes. Other studies show that most children eating conventional food have organophosphate residues in their blood and urine – these neurotoxins are ubiquitous in the food supply. There are two studies that found that children who eat organic food have no organophosphate residues.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

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