Beating the Power of the Anti Organic Food Lobby: IFOAM's Katherine DiMatteo Urges Unity

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Katherine DiMatteo, the president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) argues it is important for organic food groups to work together because of the power of the anti organic food lobby. "We're trying to change how resources are used and who distributes those resources and the naysayers against organic are the ones who have all those resources"

We're trying to change how resources are used and who distributes those resources and the naysayers against organic are the ones who have all those resources.

While more consumers are buying organic foods, the movement itself is divided about the way forward. Katherine DiMatteo, the president of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), told Julie Hosking of Trust Organic Food that there is real disagreement about what organic means today.

"(There are) those who really believe that organic is the best way to farm and that if every farm converts to organic then there will be more organic products for retailers to sell," she says.

Then there are those who believe organic is more than just farming. "It's about social justice, small farms... they want to keep out (of the organic movement) those who are a corporation, are mainstream, or who might make conventional products as well as organic."

Katherine argues it is important for the diverging groups to work together because of the power of the anti-organic food lobby. "We're trying to change how resources are used and who distributes those resources and the naysayers against organic are the ones who have all those resources."

As head of IFOAM, and previously of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Katherine believes the movement can strengthen, provided the different groups learn to unite behind their common values, such as:

  • Good livelihoods for everyone, be they farmers, retailers or processors;
  • Equal access to market opportunities;
  • Equal access to the healthiest food possible;
  • Adequate food supplies for everyone;
  • A marketplace, banking and government policy that encourages entrepreneurial farms and individuals;
  • Acknowledging the importance of cooperatives.

For the full interview, see Bridging the organic divide

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Julie Hosking
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