Sustainable Agriculture

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Round Table on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change

Fellow sustainable agriculturalists.

The best thing to come out of the COP15 and Copenhagen so far happened in the Danish Agricultural Council not inside the Bella Center. Many of the premier minds and actors in organic agriculture met to form a pact here in Copenhagen. Dr. Urs Niggli and Dr. Matthias Stolze of FiBL, Dr. Timothy Lasalle of Rodale Institute, Gundola Azeez of Soil Association, Antonio Compagnoni of ICEA, Andre Leu of IFOAM and many more were part of the Round Table on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change for which I was the minute keeper.

The objectives of the Round Table:

  • Initiate, support and facilitate research on organic agriculture and climate change,
  • Advise the international community on organic agriculture and climate change issues,
  • Develop a measurement method to enable reliable quantification and certification of carbon sequestration in organic agriculture.

After our many months of studies in Göttingen and Witzenhausen on agriculture I found myself sitting with them at the table and listening to the proposed actions on getting organic in to the climate change talks. All very exciting.

The first action is in response to the Ad Hoc working group formed in the COP15 and proposed to make comments to the COP by March. IFOAM’s Advocacy Manager Robert Jordan has been elected to carry out this action.

FiBL News

Green Planet .Net


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No Patents on Life

Chatting this morning with a party member from the inside of the agriculture process here at the COP15 I have been even more inspired about the promotion and advancement of organic. The language inside the negotiations appears to be following the natural path toward more sustainable and agro-biodiverse systems. However, I have been warned, the powerful lobbyists from the chemical corporations are putting lines in there wherever possible about patents and technologies.

Farmers have a fundamental right to save seed and they need to be honored for that role and to have that right protected. The phrase for today is ‘No Patents on Life’ – Shout it from the rooftops -Walk in the streets with it on a sign. Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and the gang are here inside the COP15 pushing as hard as they can to get rights to these technologies written in to the language of the international agreements. On the one hand we need to band together with those lobbyists to get agriculture on the agenda but it is imperative that patents on life are excluded.

Saturday at the ‘Agriculture Side Event’ here at the COP15  United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack mentioned organic agriculture (which is fundamentally opposed to genetic engineering). The mention was in passing and related to healthy food and part of a statement about the problem of obesity in the United States. Nevertheless the mention is a win for organic. Today IFOAM is supposed to have a press conference at 1400 and a side event tomorrow at 1630. If we are allowed in and these things take place it will be a good opportunity to talk about the farmers right to save seed and IFOAM’s position on genetic engineering.

Read up on it. Spread the word.


No Patents On Seeds

IFOAM Position on Genetic Engineering

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Sustainable Agriculture in Copenhagen

Well, things are moving along quickly here at the COP15 in Copenhagen. The talks have ended with a full pull out of the ‘developing’ nations and started again in just a few hours – the UNFCCC staff has informed us that several thousand of the ‘civil society’ will not be allowed to enter tomorrow and the next day – by Friday we will be only 90 people with something like 26 thousand of us outside. It seems that by Friday this conference will be only for the government officials – for ‘security reasons’ says the UNFCCC staff.

Agriculture and forestry are being talked about everywhere. I just came from a meeting with the International Federation of Agriculture Producers (IFAP) on the potential for agriculture’s inclusion in ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ (REDD) and the potential for agriculture in combating and adapting to climate change. The over-all message was positive: we should support and respect the 3 billion farmers of the world (mostly women) and find ways to support them in maintaining the traditional knowledge, making more food, making food in a more sustainable way and making food on land that they already have instead of deforesting and converting natural areas to agricultural lands. There was no mention of the potential for organic agriculture but sustainable agriculture was mentioned and Urs Niggli from Das Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL) has assured me that any inclusion of agriculture in the talks will have to steer us toward organic agriculture.

The thing that really made me feel good about my newly acquired agriculturalist knowledge was the question and answer period. – I did not get a chance to talk but the California Secretary of Agriculture A. G. Kawamura stood up to talk about the need for research in plant protection for food security. During his small talk he stumbled over the agricultural language and said ‘uh the ability for pests and things to attack the plants’ . ‘The word he is looking for is virulence’ I wrote on a paper and handed to a neighboring FSC colleague.

Now sitting in a side event on the proposed changes in Turkey in the face of climate change. The whole country appears to be ready to get to work in Renewable Technologies but really focused on the carbon markets. They are planting trees, transitioning to public transportation, redesigning the building sector.

That is it for now from Copenhagen. Stay Tuned.

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The College of the Atlantic, Uni-Göttingen/Kassel Connection in Copenhagen


I am here now with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) at the COP15 in Copenhagen Denmark. The whole thing started on Monday the 7th. You’ve likely already heard enough about it – so all I can do is offer you this watch this short video by Annie Leonard if you have not already.

I am at the end of a presentation about agricultural development in the face of climate change in Africa at the COP15 on a study presented by IFPRI. The study itself is nothing to blog home about – it is clearly industrial agriculture focused driven by the funds from the World Bank and completely blind to the possibility for sustainable agriculture.  Sitting nearby (probably steaming as much as I am) are colleagues from IFOAM, FSC, Ugandan student-colleagues from Göttingen and  College of the Atlantic faculty member Doreen Stabinsky.

The NGO and side event section of the COP15 has been a gathering place for we movers and shakers. The feeling is very insular in a way as the Delegates walk through our crowd each morning on their way to meetings behind closed doors while we stay outside and pat each-other on the back for doing good.

It seems the general consensus is that not much will come of the COP15 in terms of real differences for climate change. However, it is nice to know that the solidarity is here for a better world. among other organizations are holding demonstrations in the halls daily. I see no way that the message that our community of activists and NGOs has not entered the minds of the people in the COP15 talks. However, when those seeds will sprout in the minds of the leaders we cannot say.

Finally. I just wanted to say that things are alright here and we are all here in good number. I’ll try to keep the blog updated and let you know how things progress.

Things to do:

Watch Story of Cap and Trade from the makers of Story of Stuff

Check out Cory’s Thoughts on Sustainable Practices for more from me about the COP15 from my perspective.

Spend some time on Al Gore’s websites and the website of

Check out the Klimaforum

Hope and Pray.