Organic works – on many levels. It protects our water, improves soil fertility, and boosts biodiversity. Organic protects the climate, is holistically healthy, and ensures the basic preconditions for life. Organic agriculture, foodstuff production and trade benefit the common good all around the world. When BIOFACH, the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, brings the international organic sector together to launch the new year at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg between 12 and 15 February 2020, the sector will discuss the key challenges of the future and the answers and solutions that an environmentally friendly way of doing business can offer.
Louise Luttikholt, Executive Director of IFOAM, is in no doubt: “Organic farmers, processors and traders provide a boost for sustainability on many levels. In many countries around the world, environmentally friendly ways of doing business are governed by stringent legislation. But the positive influence of these practices goes far beyond the conformity mark of an environmental inspection body or an organic certificate. Organic agriculture methods provide inspiration to millions – from farmers to consumers – and entire regions to work together to achieve a sustainable future that’s fit for our grandchildren to live in. Increasing numbers of farmers are switching to organic agriculture, and more and more people are choosing organic products. But for the organic sector, “organic” means more than positive economic development. Ultimately, it’s all about the fact we want to show our environment, water, soil, biodiversity, climate and growers the respect they deserve. That’s what we want to emphasise with the main congress theme for BIOFACH 2020.”
Prince Felix of Löwenstein, Chairman of the German Federation of Organic Food Producers (BÖLW), adds: “Organic agriculture and foodstuff production have a direct impact on all living things, from the smallest microbes in the soil and the animals on our farms to human health and wellbeing. Organic firms all around the world are already showing that it pays to deal carefully with our natural resources. The economy and ecology are not mutually exclusive. On a larger scale we can see that organic plays an important role that enables us in turn to achieve many important goals – on all levels: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN, and also the environmental, climate and animal protection goals set by Germany and the EU.”
Scientific studies show that organic already offers solutions for the key challenges of the future. This was confirmed recently in the world’s largest overview study by the Thünen Institute, a Federal research institute in Germany, which concluded as follows:
- Organic farming protects water: Organic farming reduces nitrogen input by a median 28 percent. In 71 percent of cases, organic farming performed better for critical substance discharge (nitrogen, pesticides).
- Organic farming keeps the soil fertile and builds up new fertile soil: Soil fertility benefits from organic farming. The abundance and biomass of earthworm populations are, respectively, 78 percent and 94 percent higher.
- Organic farming promotes biodiversity: Organic farming has positive effects on biodiversity. Overall, organically managed soils have 34 percent more biodiversity. The number of species of flora on arable land is as much as 95 percent higher under organic management. For birds, the increase in field species was 35 percent.
- Organic farming supports the fight against climate change: On average, organically managed soils have a 10 percent higher organic carbon content and a higher annual carbon sequestration rate of 256 kg C/ha.
- Organic farming protects health: Organic farming ensures that harmful substances are kept out of natural systems and do not reach humans. Processing organic products uses no harmful additives. And customers who turn to organics also tend to prefer freshly prepared meals to convenience foods, and also eat less meat.
- Organic farming generates income for whole families: Organic farming provides a reliable source of income for people in rural areas. This gives a boost to rural areas and curbs urban drift. Organic agriculture thus plays a central role in sustainable development.
According to industry experts, these examples show that an “environmental footprint” involves much more than just economic success. Prince Felix of Löwenstein, BÖLW: “These scientific insights show that organic represents a forward-looking economic system in which prices reflect environmental reality and food production is managed fairly and sustainably. Every hectare of organic land and every organic foodstuff is already making a contribution to a sustainable future for our planet. Organic farming is the way for us to really effectively transform our foodstuff production.”
Louise Luttikholt, IFOAM: “It may be the case that we do not yet know exactly what our food systems will be like in the future. But we can draw on the experiences of millions of organic farmers, processing businesses and traders around the world and extrapolate from the innovations being made in organic farming. What we absolutely need and what is actually possible will quickly become clear at that point: sustainable foodstuff production that does not exceed the limits of what the planet can support, and is embedded in our local communities. Foodstuff production that looks after the environment and provides people with a livelihood at the same time! For us it is important that customers, producers and politicians view the transformation of our eating culture as an opportunity. We must therefore seize it with both hands. Only when we really understand the huge benefits that organic offers will we be able to provide systemic answers, engage in meaningful discussion and give the transformation wings. Within the organic sector, we are also aware of the need to constantly refine organics, invest more in research and training for skilled workers, and commit at a political level to speed up the transformation process.”
Every year, the main congress theme for BIOFACH is determined by the international patron of BIOFACH, IFOAM – Organics International; the national honorary sponsor, Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (the German Federation of Organic Food Producers, BÖLW); and the world’s leading trade fair for organic food.
Questions of future interest the BIOFACH Congress is focusing on:
- What are the positive effects of organic farming, and what is its contribution toward maintaining biodiversity? How does organic farming affect CO2 content and biodiversity? What scientific insights are available in this regard?
- How can policy-makers encourage the transformation of farming and our eating culture, and which policy and communication strategies are the best?
- How does organic farming contribute to the global fight against hunger and climate change, or desert expansion?
- What does organic achieve for the common good? How can the environment and the economy be combined sustainably? How do poorer regions, for example, benefit from organic farming?
Share your ideas at the BIOFACH congress!
The BIOFACH congress is held in parallel with the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, and its many individual events will focus on the main theme of the congress, “Organic works!”. With more than 9,000 participants and contributors to the discussion, the BIOFACH congress is the largest international knowledge and networking platform in the sector. Once again in 2020, exhibitors and visitors, media representatives and policy-makers are invited to submit their topics as part of the Call for Ideas at www.biofach.de/en/biofach-congress, join in the discussion at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg from 12 to 15 February and use the annual sector gathering as a springboard to help shape the future.