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The recession was brutal for the organic sector. When the global economy crashed in 2008, retailers were quick to delist organic lines. Vegetables, for most consumers, were simply vegetables; shoppers were not prepared to pay the premium for an organic version, supermarkets reasoned. Gone was the double-digit growth of the early 2000s.
Between 2008 and 2013, the organic market declined by more than 20 per cent, explains Rob Howard, managing director of Riverford Organic. The fact that box schemes such as Riverford managed to grow in such tough trading conditions (sales increased 25 per cent in the past five years, with turnover for the past year reaching £45 million) shows how its strategy of increased deliveries, new products and improved digital technology paid off.
Likewise Abel & Cole, Riverford’s main box scheme rival, increased turnover by 20 per cent in the past year, according to the Soil Association’s 2013 annual report.
Today, the organic market – 70 per cent of which is controlled by the supermarkets – still has problems. Kantar data for the 52 weeks to 18 August 2013 shows sales of organic produce declined 4.4 per cent in value to £181m. Volumes were down 6.8 per cent. Decline in the market was driven by veg, with fewer shoppers and a decline in purchase frequency the main reasons.
United States biotech giant Monsanto is ending all but one project to grow GM foods in Europe, reports German daily Die Welt.
The firm announced on July 17 that it is withdrawing all permits requested to the European Commission to grow genetically modified corn, soy and sugar beets because it does not see "a commercial outlook" for these products, the paper says. Only a request to grow genetically modified corn of the MON810 type will be renewed.
This month’s floods along the Danube and other Central European rivers could add up to the costliest weather-related disaster since 1999, with the cost to agriculture alone expected to exceed €1 billion. Farm groups representatives pressed EU negotiators to reach a final deal on the Common Agricultural Policy, arguing that its direct-payments scheme helps sustain farmers in times of climate uncertainty.
Credit Suisse AG estimates overall damage ranging from €3 billion to €5.8 billion due to rains and floods that hit Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany the hardest. In some places, the Danube, Inn and Ilz were four times their normal levels during the height of the flooding.
In addition to damaged homes and infrastructure, more than 400 farms in Germany reported crop losses and up to 20% of the vegetable crop was lost in the Czech Republic, which suffered its worst flooding since 2002.
A Lincolnshire-based seed merchant has imported record quantities of seed as a result of UK spring shortages.
Cope Seeds said last year’s poor harvest and wet weather meant farmers were sowing in spring rather than winter, which had put pressure on supplies of spring cereals for this year’s harvest.
And the firm expects to import more seed in the next few months as a result of lower than average yields and therefore seed stock for the 2013 harvest because of late drilling and poor crop establishment.
DEFRA Secretary Owen Paterson’s views on genetically modified crops could set Westminster against the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
Both administrations are opposed to the technology and have taken steps to prevent it being grown in their countries.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The cultivation of GM crops could damage Scotland’s rich environment and would threaten our reputation for producing high quality and natural foods. It would damage Scotland’s image as a land of food and drink.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Welsh Government maintains a precautionary approach to GM crop cultivation in Wales and adheres to the UK and EU legislative framework.”
Over the past decade, documentary filmmakers have been analyzing the modern industrial food-supply chain with a vengeance. Films like Food Inc, Fast Food Nation,Supersize Me and Farmageddon have opened the eyes of consumers around the world to the shocking truths about how food is produced in the modern world. Since then, scores of films looking at various aspects of the state of agriculture, modern diets and society’s disconnectedness from nature have been produced and many more are slated. Audience appetites for learning more about natural and sustainable food production don’t seem to be waning.
But audiences have not been content with staying on the couch and idly acknowledging that our food supply is in big trouble. All around the globe there is evidence that a green revolution is sweeping through cities, and it doesn’t seem to matter how rich or poor their average citizens are, or how little access they have to arable land.
Now a new film goes on a journey to some unexpected places in search of the interesting characters that are most active in this burgeoning trend.
Don’t believe what you hear from vested interests, rent-a-quote ‘scientists’ and’ bought’ politicians. After nearly 20 years of promises that genetically modified food would revolutionise our world, feed the hungry, boost the yields and therefore the incomes of farmers, and even cure disease, genetically modified crops have never lived up to those promises.
These are the genetically modified failures that big biotech refuses to be accountable for, doesn’t want you to know about and the reasons why we continue to say ‘NO!’ to GMOs.
A Shropshire farm has imported £10,000 worth of bees from Italy after losing two-thirds of its stock following months of poor weather.
The Plymouth Estate, at Bromfield, near Ludlow, has lost more than 100 hives in the past 12 months.
But farm owners moved quickly to refill stocks by transporting the bees over to the UK in a lorry. The bees pollinate farm crops and make the honey which is then sold in the farm shop, Ludlow Food Centre (www.ludlowfoodcentre.co.uk).
Genetically modified organisms, such as plants and livestock are already found in our supermarkets. GM plants are much more common than many people realize too. Here is a list of the 10 most common GMO foods so you can be more aware while grocery shopping.
Europe may be skeptical of genetically modified crops — fearing they may contaminate traditional species and require more pesticides — but a new study shows that tests of urban Europeans’ urine already spell M-O-N-S-A-N-T-O.
A network of environmental groups, Friends of the Earth International, tested the urine of 182 European city dwellers, from 18 countries, and found traces of the potentially-dangerous herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, in 44% of samples. The leading producer of this herbicide is Monsanto Co. MON +0.77%, a company whose name has become almost synonymous with the genetically modified organisms it produces.
“This weed killer is being widely overused,” said Adrian Bebb, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth International. And that’s even though hardly any genetically modified crops are grown in Europe.
Mr Leavesley likes to dabble in a spot of pig farming on the side too. And for his next move he plans to build an intensive pig farm in the middle of the picturesque village of Foston, Derbyshire.
There’s nothing all that new about intensive pig farms. Since the 1960s, UK farmers have been adopting intensive systems of farming in an effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost. But the mammoth project that Mr Leavesley wants to roll out would house around 25,000 pigs. That’s nearly 40 times the size of today’s average pig farm, herding the UK in a brusque trot towards all mechanized, workerless American-style mass protein manufacturing plants.
If you believe in a fairer food system, want better access to locally grown organic food for Greater Manchester, or simply want the opportunity to be a farmer for the day or dine at one of our buyers restaurants, have a look at our fantastic rewards and give us your support!
The wettest autumn since records began, followed by the coldest spring in 50 years, has devastated British wheat, forcing food manufacturers to import nearly 2.5m tonnes of the crop.
"Normally we export around 2.5m tonnes of wheat but this year we expect to have to import 2.5m tonnes," said Charlotte Garbutt, a senior analyst at the industry-financed Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. "The crop that came through the winter has struggled and is patchy and variable. The area of wheat grown this year has been much smaller."
Analysts expect a harvest of 11m-12m tonnes, one of the smallest in a generation, after many farmers grubbed up their failing, waterlogged crops and replanted fields with barley. According to a National Farmers Union poll of 76 cereal growers covering 16,000 hectares, nearly 30% less wheat than usual is being grown in Britain this year.
Britain is usually the EU's third biggest wheat grower but it will be a net importer for the first time in 11 years. "Our poll is a snapshot but it is extremely worrying. If this plays out nationally, we will be below average production for the second year in a row," said NFU crops chair Andrew Watts.
It has come on like a tidal wave, washing across the Corn Belt from Minnesota to the Texas panhandle, a disease that few farmers had seen until five years ago.
Known as Goss’s wilt, it has cut some farmers’ corn yields in half, and it is still spreading. This summer it reached Louisiana, farther south than it had ever been identified. Alison Robertson, a plant pathologist at Iowa State University, estimated that about 10 percent of this year’s corn crop would fall to Goss’s.
In 1996, I returned from college to my family's farm and found it in complete shambles. My parents had given up on ever making a profit from farming, and had taken jobs in the city to make ends meet. Our crops of corn and cattle barely covered our production costs, and the land didn't generate enough profit for us to even buy our own food. Our family farm, just like thousands of others across the country, was undeniably broken.Now, nearly 20 years later, we've turned our farm around. We raise grass-finished beef, and sell it directly to customers at farmers' markets. Because I sell my food directly to the public, I'm constantly asked: "Why is organic food so expensive?" This is an understandable question, especially because 'conventional' beef at the grocery stores is so much cheaper by comparison. But in order to understand why one type of beef is more 'expensive,' we should first examine why the other meat is so 'cheap.'
Europe’s food industry has set its sights on reducing food loss and food waste with the hopes of improving sustainability across the supply chain.
The “Every Crumb Counts” declaration, launched Tuesday in Brussels, outlines a 12-point pledge directed at educating consumers, improving public policy and informing best practices.
The initiative cites the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s estimate that about a third of food for human consumption is lost or wasted along the supply chain. Such “wastage” – lost or wasted food meant specifically for human consumption – is tied to increased problems with world hunger and unnecessary greenhouse gases.
The goals of the declaration seek to complement the European Commission’s aim to cut edible food waste in half by 2020 as outlined in the flagship initiative “A resource-efficient Europe.”
The Global Organic Food market is to grow at a CAGR of 14.3 percent CAGR over the period 2012-2016. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increased purchasing power of consumers. The Global Organic Food and Drink market has also been witnessing an increasing focus on organic farming. However, the high cost of organic food and drink could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.Organic farming involves the production of crops without the use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. Organic farming provides long-term benefits to the environment and consumers. The Global Organic Food and Drink market is witnessing the increasing adoption of organic farming methods because of the increasing demand for organic food products. Governments of various nations are offering strong support and are promoting organic farming as it will increase the contribution of the Agricultural sector to the GDP of their respective countries.
This week, a new peer-reviewed study has found non-GM farming in Europe outperforms GM farming in North America. Although reports had said that Paterson would advocate weaker regulation for GM, today he stated that he was not suggesting that European Union safeguards should be watered down, only that he wanted to "explore ways of getting the EU system working". However, proposals by government advisers to weaken the regulations are being developed by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. Its chairman Professor Chris Pollock discussed the plans with ministers last month.The pipeline of GM crops awaiting approval in the EU, include GM herbicide-tolerant maize that might be grown in the United Kingdom. But such crops were abandoned following the results of the field-scale evaluations in 2004, which showed they would harm wildlife because of the effect of the blanket use of weedkillers. Scotland and Wales have anti-GM policies and if the crops were to be grown in England, this would be highly controversial. Consumers would ultimately pay the costs of segregating GM and non-GM food supplies and farmers would lose more lucrative non-GM conventional and organic markets, if their crops became contaminated with GM crops or seeds.
Waitrose has reported a resurgence in organic food sales in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and the GM debate…
The biotech lobby makes swaggering claims, presenting genetic modification (GM) as a magic bullet that will feed the world, without any downside whatsoever. It assures us that GM is entirely safe, for both humans and animals. It promises that it will increase crop yields and reduce pesticide use. What’s not to like?
Fairy stories can be entrancing, but never confuse them with the truth. It has long been clear that GM is substantively and radically different from traditional methods of improving plants and breeds. GM is a relatively crude technique- think of cut and paste- that moves genetic material across species barriers. As such, it is unprecedented, capable of triggering unpredictable, and irreversible, changes in the DNA, proteins and biochemical composition of food. And the case against GM has only become more persuasive and authoritative since the 1990s when informed consumers first fought to keep food with GM ingredients off shelves in Europe. Mounting evidence shows that GM has not delivered on its bragging promises.
I remain implacably opposed to the genetic modification of our food, and here, in the simplest, briefest terms, is why.
GM crops are probably safer than conventional plants, according to the Environment Secretary.
Making the strongest call yet for the adoption of the technology, Mr Paterson told the BBC that that GM has significant benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment.
He said the next generation of GM crops offers the "most wonderful opportunities to improve human health."
But green groups say this new push is dangerous and misguided.
WASHINGTON – A bid by a group of organic seed growers to pre-emptively sue GM giant Monsanto to try gain protection against patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's GM seed has once again been turned down by the US courts. However, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association attorney, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), is claiming a partial victory because, during the course of the lawsuit, “Monsanto has bound itself to not sue the plaintiffs.” The ruling will have significance for growers of organic cotton.
An array of innovative sources of social finance have emerged to help small producers in the developing world
When it comes to access to finance, especially in the developing world, small producers are typically left staring into a void. Without significant collateral, mainstream banks are reluctant to lend. Informal lenders, meanwhile, typically charge crippling interest rates. That leaves them with the possibility of governmental assistance or charitable aid, both of which are limited.
Ethical players such as Union Hand Roasted Coffee are trying to fill the financing gap with their own initiatives. The UK-based specialty coffee company has strong developmental goals, and believes that negotiating directly with small farmers is the best way to deliver on that mission.
Over the past five years, the "free from" market has morphed from niche to mainstream as big retailers and food manufacturers clock the commercial benefits of catering to the spiralling number of us who have a food allergy or intolerance – most often to gluten, wheat and dairy products.
Children are most affected, with up to 50% being diagnosed with an allergic condition. Allergy UK reports a significant increase in such conditions, partly due to diets that include a lot of processed foods and less fruit and vegetables.
A growing demand for milk and cheese in China has the potential to bring California’s beleaguered dairy industry back to life – and with it, renewed concern about its damaging effects on the environment.
As China’s middle class grows, so does its penchant for dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. U.S. government data show that Chinese demand for dairy products is growing rapidly. For instance, between 2011 and 2012, imports of skimmed milk powder grew by 49 percent and are expected to increase an additional 18 percent this year.