Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | April 25, 2008

Organic Summit to highlight industry concerns

Nanotechnology for food and food security are among the key issues affecting the natural food industry, according to the line-up of topics at this year’s Organic Summit.

Set to take place June 25-27 in Boulder, Colorado, the conference is designed as a leader-level working forum for all stakeholders in the organic industry.

The organic industry is taking flight at a rapid rate, but certified organic products in the US stilly only represent 3.5 percent of the country’s entire food economy.

According to the summit organizers, the organic community is impeded by the negative effects of agro-industrial globalization on food supply, the lag in passing the Farm Bill, as well as various issues surrounding organic standards.

“Most would agree that our roots are planted in the progressive social, environmental and community movement, but how we interpret and implement our values in a rapidly changing and entrepreneurial business climate deserves, if not demands further exploration,” said Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). “The Organic Summit is designed to dig deep into the most significant organic topics.”

The theme of this year’s conference – produced by New Hope Natural Media in partnership with OFRF- is “Cultivating Innovation and Transparency in the Organic Community”, and the event is offering various sessions, tours and special events for up to 250 industry members and leaders.


One topic area of the conference that reflects a concern in the organic industry is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology refers to controlling matter at an atomic or molecular scale of between one and 100 nanometers (nm) – one millionth of a millimeter.

Although a fairly recent phenomenon, current estimates on the value of products using nanotechnology put it currently in the range of US$7bn. In the food industry, the technology has a variety of uses including detecting bacteria in packaging, or producing stronger flavors and colorings.

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Farm Bill

The farm bill was initially ushered into debate in 2002, but is still on the drawing board as the House and the Senate currently. Among other things, the bill has called into question funding issues and given hope to the organic industry.

For instance, the provisions tentatively agreed upon as part of the Farm Bill include $20mn per year in mandatory funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative for four years.

Food Security

Food security relates to the organic industry because it ties in principles of sustainable agriculture and whether or not there is enough of a food supply to feed the population. Depending on which side of the fence you are on, the argument can swing both ways: that using pesticides improves crop yields, or that organic farming is more sustainable over the long time and therefore enhances food security.

Those consumers who are concerned with issues relating to food security may in fact be more likely to buy organic. Investor Ideas researched this trend in a recent report on organic, natural foods and alternative health stocks and industry, making a positive correlation between the organic market and rising food prices.

“It is interesting that this trend emerges in parallel to the World Bank stating that food prices have increased 83 percent worldwide over the past three years and food shortages are becoming a global issue,” wrote the firm.

“There is a global shift taking place in the food, water and health sectors as we face consequences of environmental damage due to pollution, global warming, agricultural trends and use of pesticides and global drought.”

Organisers of the Organic Summit have selected Daria Myers, global president of Origins Natural Resources, as the opening keynote speaker. Seth Goldman, president of Honest Tea, and Michael Ohmstede, senior vice president of business development venturing and emerging brands at Coca-Cola North America, will close the conference.



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