Tag Archive: organic movement

Nov 12

SEKEM – a Bio-pioneer for Food Security

The SEKEM Initiative was founded by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish in 1977 to strengthen sustainable development in Egypt. Part of the Initiative is the SEKEM Group of companies which produces, processes and markets organic and bio-dynamic foodstuffs, textiles, and phyto-pharmaceuticals in Egypt, the Arab World, and on international markets. SEKEM is known as the bio-pioneer of the region which significantly contributed to food security through desert land reclamation. With part of their profits the SEKEM companies co-finance the social and cultural activities of the SEKEM Development Foundation that runs, among others, several schools, a medical centre, an academy of applied sciences, and other institutions in Egypt.

In 2009, SEKEM co-founded the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development which opened in September 2012 with the faculties of Business and Economics, Pharmacy and Engineering. The university aims at empowering students to become entrepreneurs and activists of sustainable development in all spheres of life.

In the coming years, it is planned to open a faculty of Organic Agriculture in order to utilize the vast experience and knowledge that has been built within the Heliopolis Academy of the SEKEM Development Foundation. Intensive research has been conducted for years in:

  • Microbiology,
  • Composting,
  • Food security,
  • Carbon sequestration potential,
  • Carbon foot-printing,
  • Desert land reclamation,
  • Clean technologies such as subsurface irrigation,
  •  Water foot-printing
  • Agroforestry practices,
  • Comparative analysis of organic and conventional agricultural practices regarding costs, yields and water consumption in Egypt.

SEKEM and Heliopolis University will continue to spread organic agriculture in the region in order to meet the great challenges of our times such as food and water insecurity, climate change and poverty.

 

Oct 10

Artebio: Active in the European Market? Protect your Interests. Support IFOAM EU.

As the European umbrella organization for organic food and farming, we take on the hard work of lobbying for the inclusion of organic ideas and solutions in mainstream agricultural policy. The European institutions see us as a key contact for matters of agriculture, environment, research and health issues. Our wide network at the institutions and alliances with like-minded civil society organizations and NGOs, enable us push through amendments to EU regulations and weigh in on decisions of importance for the organic industry.

The fact that we represent so many diverse stakeholders gets OUR voice heard; together we have much more impact than any individual stakeholder could. That’s possible due to the great depth of knowledge and commitment of our board, e-board, diverse membership and Brussels-based staff.

Read more about IFOAM EU Group on www.ifoam-eu.org

IFOAM EU is not just a regional group for me: the important decisions on agricultural policy and as a consequence agricultural practices are taken in Brussels. If we want to work for a better agricultural future, Brussels is therefore the place to be. In the organic industry our hearts and minds are set on being the leader in sound solutions for the challenges humanity is facing, so we must have a strong representation in Brussels. Join me in sponsoring the good work of IFOAM EU!”

Alexandra Thöring, artebio – International Agency for Organic Products

Sep 18

Canada Organic Trade Association: A guiding light

September 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring. In many respects, this book launched what is considered the modern environmental movement in North America. It was a catalyst to major changes in regulation, the government’s role in public and environmental health, and in many ways announced the birth, in earnest, of today’s organic community.

Pause and think a moment of this woman who made such fundamental change as a contrarian amidst the feverishly innovative and entrepreneurial post-war era, when the miracle of chemistry was being integrated into everyday life. She was in many respects a solitary voice, an outsider by her gender and strong conviction, and a questioner of how sustainable our decisions to date had been.

At the time of Silent Spring, we were on a long road to sickness: companies were advertising the uses of DDT to protect crops, livestock and even babies. Dairy cows and their feed were sprayed with the toxic compound. Children frolicked in the plumes of community spray-trucks. Families were sold DDT-laced wallpaper for their newborn’s bedroom to protect them from “pests.”

Today, some of our food is being impregnated at the genetic level similar pesticides— still “miracles” of science to save us from vague threats, and still questionable in their necessity or long-term sustainability.

This fall will also mark the 40th year of IFOAM, when a community came together of those who were unconvinced that chemical death-agents could sustain our life on the planet. These individuals helped shape the vision of an alternative system of organic agriculture and values, and how it could be practiced in nations all around the world.

Then, 20 years ago, we took a sobering moment in Rio to question what the future of our toxic and warming world might look like, and to try to shift it, collectively, to a more sustainable future. And then we returned again this year, with many great achievements to celebrate, but the conviction that more has to be done to truly make a difference.

50 years, 40 years, 20 years ago: major milestones on our road to sustainability. So what will this year bring—will California choose to label GMOs and by so doing help shape the continent? What will we see in five years’ time—will organic agriculture prove its resilience and restorative qualities in a world of unpredictable and extreme weather shifts? And what will we realize in the next 50 years that will ensure our descendants can enjoy the same gifts we were given?

That question is the same one that Rachel Carson faced in 1962: we each must internalize sustainability, we must question every day how the things we do, support, make, or buy either sustain or drain our world of its diversity and its life. This is a daily moment, and a personal one; but we are all, collectively, shaped by its outcome.

Matthew Holmes
Canada Organic Trade Association
www.ota.com
Organic Week in Canada
www.organicweek.ca