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IFOAM World Congress: prestigious speakers deliver inspiring messages

The second day of the IFOAM World Congress began with three very interesting lectures. Anna Lappé, author and staff member at the Small Planet Institute, made it clear in her address where the challenges for the organic movement lie. The fact is that the big corporations’ lobby succeeds time and again in putting the people with political responsibility under pressure and, with huge financial resources, in implementing their projects that destroy the environment and endanger health. This is the reality, but it’s only one side of the coin.

She said what gives her hope are an organic movement that is growing stronger across the whole world and innumerable initiatives whose objective is to make the world a better place. A movement that is increasingly making itself heard in the political sphere. Its strategy is to continually repeat the facts that we see clearly before us: organic means having a healthy lifestyle, preventing cancer, obesity and genetic engineering and lobbying by industry.

"Fighting for organic means fighting for society and its wellbeing,” Lappé maintained. As the latest example, she pointed to the demo on climate change with half a million people in New York - "Cook organic and not the Planet." Lappé believes in the positive power of the media and that the good news of the organic movement is reaching more and more people.

The Canadian Pat Mooney too (picture), winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize and co-founder of the ETC Group, declared: "We’ve got to concentrate on telling positive stories and communicating the successes of the organic movement. But then we have to make abundantly clear and tangible the terrible disaster that conventional agriculture and the food industry are causing." Pat Mooney gave a number of examples, like the drastic reduction in biodiversity and overconsumption, with all its consequences.

Monsanto and Syngenta are negotiating about a merger. The conventional agriculture industry is inefficient and a huge waste of money. With great urgency, the organic movement must demand more support from politicians in all parts of the world if we are to have a future.

The initiative of Will Allen, urban farmer and founder of the organization Growing Power in the USA, spread hope. In 2010 and 2011, Time Magazine and the Forbes Institute placed him among the 100 most influential people of the year. His book "The Good Food Revolution" helped to create the urban gardening movement. In many impressive pictures, Allen showed the successes of Growing Power: "We’re on the way from a movement to a revolution." He said he doesn’t find this surprising, because food is one of the most important things in the world.

About 30,000 visitors a year look round his farm in Milwaukie and, in local workshops in many towns, they learn about compost and organic methods of cultivation. "People are fascinated," says Allen, bursting with enthusiasm. He is experimenting with, among other things, aquaponics and is carrying out research in collaboration with universities, but he’s also generating jobs for the unemployed by renting old halls and land all over the country and turning them into little farms, fish farms and urban gardens. He now operates internationally too.

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