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Words of Wisdom

The 1st Middle East Vegetarian (MEVEG) Congress, Part 29 of a Multi-part Series, Dec. 7, 2010

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“Taxes, I already mentioned, on pesticides and fertilizers – that would be the easiest way to go for it. The lobby is not there yet, so, be my lobby. Help us to go there, all over the globe. This is the way to make it cleaner.

You also should see the subsidies, which are invested in the wrong way of agriculture, still promoting the pollution more than avoiding it. And if you initiate programs to enhance biodiversity, stop soil degradation, then we are coming closer to the true price. There are different aspects for the external cost categories: environmental, health, and social.

There are climate change aspects; for example, the mitigation of climate change. We are trying to bring it into the discussion with the UNFCCC, Cancún, all over. How to calculate it, how to make the organic farmers benefit from the work they do, bringing humus into the soil, making it the sink for CO2.

Soil degradation: If you count how many hectares we’re losing every day by bad treatment, erosion, by building more roads and cities, this is an aspect to account for. We have to calculate and pay those who keep the land for farming; it’s a price aspect.

Loss of biodiversity: How to quantify it? How to quantify the benefit to have hedges in between your fields and to make a living organism around your farm? This needs to be quantified and incorporated into the price.

Health: You discussed a lot this morning – diseases caused by chemicals, for example, coming from agriculture, allergies.

Social: Rural development and employment – how to account for that organic agriculture brings more employment to the villages? They can keep their work running; they don’t have escape to the cities. This is all value.

I’d like to state [that] organic agriculture is the most economic way to nourish this world, now and in the future. The awareness is important among those who make the decisions, both in the economy and also on the governmental level, as well as the consumer level. The consumer power is tremendous. Let’s use it even better.

Advocacy is important to bring it forward, that we have the research we need, the innovation. And, finally, also, the trade environment, for example, harmonized standards and regulations, which IFOAM is very much engaged in, so that in the long run, organic will be the way to go.”
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