Economics and ecology at the international organic food exhibition BioFach 2020

16 August 2019BioFach 2020

Biofach, the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, brings the international organic sector together to launch the new year at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg between 12 and 15 February 2020. 

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Louise Luttikholt, Executive Director of IFOAM, is in no doubt: “Organic farmers, processors and traders provide a boost for sustainability on many levels. In many countries around the world, environmentally friendly ways of doing business are governed by stringent legislation. But the positive influence of these practices goes far beyond the conformity mark of an environmental inspection body or an organic certificate. Organic agriculture methods provide inspiration to millions – from farmers to consumers – and entire regions to work together to achieve a sustainable future that’s fit for our grandchildren to live in. Increasing numbers of farmers are switching to organic agriculture, and more and more people are choosing organic products. But for the organic sector, “organic” means more than positive economic development. Ultimately, it’s all about the fact we want to show our environment, water, soil, biodiversity, climate and growers the respect they deserve. That’s what we want to emphasise with the main congress theme for Biofach 2020.”

Prince Felix of Lowenstein, Chairman of the German Federation of Organic Food Producers (BOLW), adds: “Organic agriculture and foodstuff production have a direct impact on all living things, from the smallest microbes in the soil and the animals on our farms to human health and wellbeing. Organic firms all around the world are already showing that it pays to deal carefully with our natural resources. The economy and ecology are not mutually exclusive. On a larger scale we can see that organic plays an important role that enables us in turn to achieve many important goals – on all levels: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN, and also the environmental, climate and animal protection goals set by Germany and the EU.”

Scientific studies show that organic already offers solutions for the key challenges of the future. This was confirmed recently in the world’s largest overview study by the Thünen Institute, a Federal research institute in Germany, which concluded as follows:

  • Organic farming protects water: Organic farming reduces nitrogen input by a median 28 percent. In 71 percent of cases, organic farming performed better for critical substance discharge (nitrogen, pesticides).
  • Organic farming keeps the soil fertile and builds up new fertile soil: Soil fertility benefits from organic farming. The abundance and biomass of earthworm populations are, respectively, 78 percent and 94 percent higher.
  • Organic farming promotes biodiversity: Organic farming has positive effects on biodiversity. Overall, organically managed soils have 34 percent more biodiversity. The number of species of flora on arable land is as much as 95 percent higher under organic management. For birds, the increase in field species was 35 percent.
  • Organic farming supports the fight against climate change: On average, organically managed soils have a 10 percent higher organic carbon content and a higher annual carbon sequestration rate of 256 kg C/ha.
  • Organic farming protects health: Organic farming ensures that harmful substances are kept out of natural systems and do not reach humans. Processing organic products uses no harmful additives. And customers who turn to organics also tend to prefer freshly prepared meals to convenience foods, and also eat less meat.
  • Organic farming generates income for whole families: Organic farming provides a reliable source of income for people in rural areas. This gives a boost to rural areas and curbs urban drift. Organic agriculture thus plays a central role in sustainable development.

According to industry experts, these examples show that an “environmental footprint” involves much more than just economic success.

Prince Felix of Lowenstein, BOLW: “These scientific insights show that organic represents a forward-looking economic system in which prices reflect environmental reality and food production is managed fairly and sustainably. Every hectare of organic land and every organic foodstuff is already making a contribution to a sustainable future for our planet. Organic farming is the way for us to really effectively transform our foodstuff production.”


The text/image source: official exhibition website Biofach 2020

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