BASF are to halve their GM research and development and reduce the time spent on developing these technologies, writes Peter Melchett. Given the many problems that GM agriculture is facing, and that new non-GE technologies offer such valuable benefits as increased crop yields, does BASF's announcement spell the beginning of the end of GM crops?
The way food is produced has a profound impact on its nutritional profile, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Not only is organic farming better for animal welfare, the environment and wildlife, writes Peter Melchett, but organic meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables all have tangible health benefits for the people who eat them.
Bhaskar Save, the 'Gandhi of natural farming', died last year after a lifetime of organic growing and determined campaigning against the destruction of India's traditional, sustainable agriculture, writes Colin Todhunter. His 2006 open letter, published here, sets out a devastating critique of industrial agriculture and its impacts, and an eloquent and timely agroecological manifesto.
Almost all our food is grown in soil, writes Peter Melchett. Yet we are treating it like dirt: spraying it with toxic chemicals, depleting vital nutrients, and releasing its carbon to add to climate change. With World Soils Day coming up tomorrow, let's change our ways - and renew our commitment to organic food and farming.
Jairo Restrepo is a leading champion of organic farming in Brazil, writes JuanFran Lopez, and now his influence has spread across the world. His mission too has expanded to include campaigning for the rights of small scale farmers, and an even wider project of economic, technological and societal transformation to put people at the centre of political power.
Cuba is a global exemplar of organic, agroecological farming, taking place on broad swathes of land in and around its cities, write Julia Wright & Emily Morris. These farms cover 14% of the country's agricultural land, employ 350,000 people, and produce half the country's fruit and vegetables. But can they survive exposure to US agribusiness?
It's a hard life being an organic farmer, writes Alicia Miller - and specially when it comes to engaging with a bureaucracy that's trying to 'green' our agriculture. Should small scale farmers change their farming practices to fit in with it? Or the other way round?
Modern agriculture - even among organic farmers - is often seen as a matter of soil chemistry, writes Lynda Brown. But an alternative view is gaining ground: that it's really about soil life. Nurture your soil-dwelling micro-organisms, and your crops look after themselves.
Europe's biggest organic fair kicks off today in Valencia, writes Pedro Burruezo - 30 years after the first ever BioCultura event in Madrid in 1985 kicked off Spain's organic revolution. Since then Spain has become Europe's biggest organic producer, and the sector is growing at a dizzying rate of over 10% a year.
The Food for Life 'Catering Mark' is bringing fresh, healthy and local food into schools, hospitals and canteens, writes Peter Melchett - while driving big increases in the volume of organic food we eat, and growing the market for organic farmers and local food producers.
The Soil Association's Catering Mark scheme promises 'fresh food you can trust'. This sounds great, writes Lynda Brown. But what does it really deliver? The truth, she finds, is much less than the promise might suggest, considerably more complicated, and threatens to erode the public's trust in the Soil Association's organic brand and values.
The apparently lower productivity of organic farming systems is caused by research bias, writes Lauren C. Ponisio, and the far greater research spending on 'conventional' agriculture. Funds should be redirected to agro-ecological methods that are highly productive, sustainable and maintain biodiversity.
The Soil Association doesn't need to 'get back to its roots', writes Helen Browning - because it never left them! It remains firmly committed to its founders' original organic mission for health, environment and animal welfare. And that means reaching out to a broader public, ensuring that organic principles are ever more widely understood and applied.
Four trustees of the Soil Association just resigned, 'more in sorrow than in anger'. Joanna Blythman, Lynda Brown, Andrew Whitley and former Ecologist editor Pat Thomas all decided they were unable to contribute further to the organisation, the UK's leading organic certifier and the 'mother ship' of British organic farming.
The organic movement faces a dilemma. Should it hold to its roots and stick with traditional production methods and local distribution? Or embrace technology and supermarkets, and feed as many mouths as possible? Andrew Wasley meets two very different organic apple producers ...
The US EPA has approved new GMO corn and soybean varieties resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D, writes Jim Goodman - and the highly toxic herbicide mix itself. In this latest escalation of the chemical war against nature there is one clear winner - Dow AgroSciences. But everyone else loses - farmers, consumers and our increasingly endangered wildlife.
Halal ritual slaughter has raised huge controversy in the UK press, writes Alicia Miller. But the far greater issue is farm animals' entire quality of life - as reflected in the Qu'ranic principle that meat must be 'tayyib' - good, wholesome and from well-treated, healthy animals. Is this something we can all agree on?
The Apricot Centre in Essex is a unique project that uses organic horticulture and animal husbandry to heal, inspire and educate children from diverse backgrounds, and kindle love for the natural world, writes Martin Large. Now it's expanding to Devon, to establish a second, much larger biodynamic smallholding near Totnes and Dartington.
How we farm matters, writes Pat Thomas - not just for water, insects, birds and the wider environment, which benefit from organic farming, but also the nutritional value of our food. It's time to value the quality of what we eat, instead of prizing quantity above all.
New EU regulations forbid the use of herbal remedies and plant essences to maintain animal health instead of antibiotics, reports Sandra Saadi. An organic ewe breeder in France has already been threatened with the loss of EU farm support payments.
Starbucks has positioned itself as a 'progressive' brand - but it's no such thing. It refuses to commit to fair trade coffee, organic milk, GMO-free / organic foods and snacks, and supports the mighty Grocery Manufacturers Association, lobbyist for GMOs and industrial agriculture.
Organic farming has changed, but for the better, writes Soil Association head of policy and Norfolk organic farmer Peter Melchett. As never before, organic inspections are central to the delivery of environmental and animal care, and food you really can trust.
Organic certification used to be carried out by real farmers in wellies, who knew all the tricks and could spot dodgy practice on the land at 100 paces, writes Julian Rose. Today's certifiers arrive in patent leather shoes and get no further than the office - and this is meant to be an improvement?
Organic farming really is wildlife friendly, new research from Oxford University has found, with far higher species diversity on organic farms than conventional ones. Lindsay Turnbull reports on her findings ...