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What IFOAM Stands For by Andre Leu, IFOAM President A small meeting was held in Versailles, France on November 5, 1972, at the invitation of Roland Chevriot of Nature et Progrès in France. The participants included Lady Eve Balfour, a founder of the UK Soil Association in the UK, Kjell Arman from the Swedish Biodynamic Association, Pauline Raphaely from the Soil Association of South Africa, and Jerome Goldstein from the Rodale Institute. They formed the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements. For me, having the great honor to be the President in IFOAM’s 40th year, it is also one of those moments of serendipity. I started my first organic farm in 1972, so it is also my 40th year as an organic farmer. The 40th anniversary is time for us to reflect on the past and look at what has been achieved from such humble beginnings and very importantly to look at the path forward that we need to take. IFOAM is now a very substantial organization with around 754 affiliates in 116 countries and yet we still struggle financially. We represent a sector that is worth over $60 billion, collects certified organic data from 160 countries and now has over 80 million hectares area of certified land, including agricultural and wild harvest areas. Yet we are less than 1% of global agriculture. In 1972 we were regarded as a fringe

element, as we were not embracing modern scientific agriculture. Many of us remember the derision and at times the hostility we received in those days from other farmers and researchers. Now as yield decline and the ever-increasing amounts of costly inputs needed to maintain yields affect agriculture, many of our pioneering methods such as composting, green manuring, crop rotations and mulching are being widely adopted to reverse this trend. IFOAM is today an active and credible participant in key international fora, such as United Nations organizations like FAO, IFAD, WFP, UNFCCC, UNCFS, UNCTAD, UNEP and UNCCD. We have the opportunity to speak at UN plenary sessions on behalf of our constituents to advocate for organic agriculture. One of our greatest achievements has been the Four Principles of Organic Agriculture Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care. Another is our Definition of Organic Agriculture. These were developed through extensive consultation and were ratified by our General Assembly. This means that they are a true consensus on how we define organic agriculture and give us guidance on how we should move forward. In the last 40 years IFOAM has been active in all areas relating to organic agriculture, including, advocating the multiple benefits 1


Organic without Boundaries. IFOAM Celebrating 40 years, 1972-2012