Organic Focus Organic Council of Ontario Newsletter Summer 2011
Volume 5, Issue 2
Organic Council of Ontario Activities In this issue: Organic Council of Ontario Activities
Regulatory Affairs Update Market & Consumer Trends
Board of Directors
The Organic Council of Ontario has been busy over the summer as we continue to act as stewards for Ontario Organics. We have been collecting data to encourage better programming in the sector and have been engaging directly with the provincial government. We have been working to improve the marketing capacity of the sector, have kicked off our extensive Ontario Organic Roadshow, and we are in the midst of producing several video projects designed to spread the organic message. OCO continues to be a strong voice for organic in media. This autumn we will be launching our brand new website where we are looking forward to a new level of engagement with members and consumers. Organic Council continues to address commitments under our project agreements funded by OMAFRA. Our data collection efforts were aided by the generous support and cooperation of our Certifier members. Canada Organic Trade Association has been contracted to provide statistics beyond the farm to round out our ―baseline‖ information on the sector. This data helps us advocate for program dollars and policies. We‘ve also contracted Farm Fresh Ontario to survey farm-gate sales, and Farmers Markets Ontario to survey market managers about the volume of certified organic and self-identified organic sold through these channels. Matt LeBeau met with Minister Carol Mitchell to discuss our sector‘s issues ahead of the July meetings of the Federal Provincial and Territorial Ministers in PEI. Matt‘s brief focused on: a) The need for stable funding for the Canada Organic Office, OFC and the Standards Review and Technical Committee work; b) The need for a GM moratorium for new species, especially Alfalfa; c) Traceability dollars and support for the Organic Sector; and d) Business Risk Management Programs that recognize the unique production parameters of the Organic Sector. Our Marketing Ontario Organics Working Group had a strategic planning session in early June. Thanks to those on the Working Group who made our day so productive – Jennifer Pfenning (Pfennings Organics), Carol Hutcheson (ONFC) , Katy Borgstrom (Organic Meadow), Jennifer Grant (Harmony Whole Foods), Mike Traynor (Yorkshire Valley Farms), Theresa Schumilas (Garden Party), Matt Holmes (COTA- by phone), and our WG Chair Maureen Kirkpatrick (The Big Carrot). For more information please see page 2.
The Ontario Organics Roadshow is underway! Since the last newsletter we have hired Treena Adhikari as our Events Coordinator to oversee the OMIF and industry funded project. We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our initial sustaining sponsors for this project for getting us half way to our fund-raising goal: Yorkshire Valley Farms, Organic Meadow, Fieldgate Organics, Neal Brothers, The Big Carrot, Filsinger‘s. There is still time to come on board and support this 18 event tour promoting organics! (Please see ―Roadshow‖ on page 2). OCO also began work on two separate video projectsdeveloping materials we can use ―on the road‖, through social media, and for distribution to the membership once they are complete. The first project is part of the Ontario Organics Roadshow, comprising of 3 RSAs. RSAs are whiteboard art-supported audio recordings that allow communication of complex ideas in a visual way. We have produced three short videos that are available now on our website and on YouTube. Our second video project is part of a province wide local food effort with Sustain Ontario. Our video discusses the importance of not just ―where‖ food is produced but ―how‖ it is produced for achieving sustainability. OCO continued to prioritize protection of the integrity of the organic brand. We will be meeting with Globe and Mail reporter Jessica Leeder to explore a story on the benefits of organic production. We also wrote a letter to the editor of Ontario Farmer to address an Op Ed piece citing the E. Coli outbreak in the EU as ―a day of reckoning‖ for the organic sector. We‘ve contracted Hypenotic, a Toronto-based media and communications firm, to support our website overhaul and our social media strategy. These are the folks who‘ve successfully supported messaging on ―Local‖, and they are eager to support our work to communicate the benefits of organics. It has been a busy summer so far and we are looking forward to an exciting fall, full of celebrations of the harvest, conferences, more roadshow stops, and the launch of our consumer membership drive that we are calling our CO-Farmer program.
Jodi Koberinski, OCO Executive Director
Marketing Ontario Organics Working Group Update OCO‘s Marketing Ontario Organics (MOO) Working Group has met twice this summer to discuss current marketing challenges and opportunities. Topics covered include: Canada Organic Brand Strategy Challenges in Marketing Ontario Organics Successes and Opportunities Presentation from Foodland Ontario about Opportunities OCO initiatives in Marketing Ontario Organics Messaging Direction Target Audience Development of Marketing Strategy Development of List of Materials Needed We developed slogan ideas as ways to talk about all the great local and organic foods in Ontario. Some possible options are: Organic & Local, Better Together. Ontario Organic, We‘re Worth It! Organic & Local, The Perfect Pair. Ontario Organics, Clean Food You Can Trust. MOO is helping develop marketing and education materials: Organic point of purchase materials - Business Card size Information for retail employees Reworked ‗Your Guide to Local and Organic‘ Organic Factsheets Document of recommended usage of language Ontario Organic T-Shirts Video Projects: 3 whiteboard explanations of organics (now on YouTube) GMO Alfalfa and Bee Video with CBAN Ontario‘s Good Food Ideas, with Sustain Ontario Green Hero‘s TV Show and Website Let us know if you would like more information, have feedback or would like to get involved in any of the MOO related projects.
Hugh Martin, Organic Lead with OMAFRA, Has Announced His Retirement Hugh has worked for OMAFRA for 34 years, 10 of which as Organic Crop Production Program Lead. He has been a tireless organic advocate within the government and throughout the development of the organic system in Canada. Hugh has played a key role in educating producers and OMAFRA staff about the value of organic. He has also been an integral part of our board of directors since our inception. We would like to express deep gratitude to Hugh for all that he has done for organics in Ontario and Canada. We hope for the best for you in your future endeavours.
The OCO Office has Moved! Just down the hall... Our Updated Address is: 5420 Highway 6 N. Unit 232 Guelph, ON. N1H 6J2
NOTE: The only change is our unit number: 232
OCO is excited to announce the launch of the Ontario Organics Roadshow. Organic Council of Ontario is launching an Ontario Organics Roadshow this summer. With matching support from the Ontario Market Investment Fund and the sector, we are touring the province to promote the new national organic standard and the Foodland Organic brand- together, these programs help Ontarians find both local AND organic foods. We are inviting regional organic businesses to join us in communities throughout Ontario to promote their farms and products, educate the public about organics, and distribute materials to help people understand the value of organic foods and to locate Ontario organic food in their communities. We are also attending three major consumer shows during the winter and spring. We have hired Treena Adhikari as our new Events Coordinator for the OMIF project. Treena has extensive experience with trade show and event planning, including international trade missions and trade shows for the Canadian Manufacturing and Export sector. Treena will be our point person for this project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-827-1221. If you have any questions about the roadshow please do not hesitate to contact us.
Roadshow Schedule: July 15-17 London Home County Folk Festival, London July 22-24 Hillside Music Festival, Guelph August 13-14 Conscious Food Festival, Toronto August 27 Harvest Picnic, Dundas September 3 Taste of Huron, Goderich September 11 Feast of Fields, King City September 11 Feast of Fields, Ottawa September 13-15 Canada‘s Outdoor Farm Show, Woodstock September 24 Taste! Prince Edward County, Picton September 25 Savour Stratford, Stratford Sept 30 – Oct 2 Niagara Food Fest, Welland October 2 Picnic at the Brickworks, Toronto October 15 – 22 Organic Week, Festivities throughout Ontario January 13 -15 London Food and Wine Show, London March 17 - 18 Green Expo, Ottawa April 20 - 22 Green Living Show, Toronto Financial support for this project was provided by the province through the Ontario Market Investment Fund and the following industry partners:
Volume 5 Issue 2
The McVean Farm Harvest Table, Brampton, August 28 Sunday, 3pm - 8pm at the McVean Incubator Farm. Join Us! Chef Yasser Qahawish will once again bring together a group of talented chefs to prepare a unique and delicious 4-course family-style feast cooked over charcoal. The meal will feature the amazing diversity of fresh produce from the McVean farm and local artisans. Paired with local sustainable wines. Artisanale Cafe & Bistro post. Direct Marketing Course - St. Mary’s/Lakeside Sun, Aug 28th 9am -4pm Ann Slater's Fresh Organic Vegetables. Having a great product is different from selling a great product, and both of these things are critical to operating a successful farm business. Join Ann Slater, who has been growing and selling vegetables in the St. Mary's area for over 30 years, on her farm to review all aspects of selling at a farmers market, from promotion, packaging and displays to pricing. CSAs, road side stands, pick-your-own operations and co-ops will be covered as well, as will marketing directly to stores and restaurants. This is an amazing opportunity to see Ann's intensively planted 1.5 acre garden during the growing season, and benefit from her direct-marketing expertise! Cost $70. Discounts available for EFO members and CRAFT apprentices! For more details and to register contact the EFAO office: Tel:1-877 822-8606 or 519-822-8606; Email: email@example.com Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, Woodstock, September 13, 14, and 15 Canada‘s Outdoor Park is home annually to Canada‘s Outdoor Farm Show each September - but people, equipment and animals are roving in and out of the site all summer long. The 85 acre site in Woodstock, Ontario is used by many companies and groups leading up to Canada‘s Outdoor Farm Show, being held this year from September 13th to 15th. Beginning as early as April, the action makes a chilly start with research programs, dealer training sessions and educational events. This summer, groups like Ontario Holsteins, Grober Nutrition and New Holland have taken advantage of the site with its long expanse of grass, buildings and crop plots. www.outdoorfarmshow.com
Good Food for All Festival Sat, Sept17th 12-3pm. The STOP Community Food Centre, Toronto
The Good Food for All Festival is back and bigger than ever! Join us on September 17 for a fun-filled—and entirely free!— day of entertainment, kids' activities, music and, of course, lots and lots of delicious food. The day will feature a community cook-off (you be the judge); a farmers' market; samples from The Stop kitchen; a bike-repair clinic; and much more. Kids will enjoy live animals, food competitions and more. Join us for what is always a wonderful day celebrating our neighbourhood and healthy, delicious food. Event is free! http://thestop.org/ Composting Course Sunday, October 2nd 9am-4pm. Whole Circle Farm, Acton This composting course looks at basic composting biology and the different options for getting a great final product. Special composting topics such as field application rates, vermiculture, compost teas, liquid manure, green manures and biogas will be touched on. Maureen Bostock, who has farmed for 20 years in northwest BC and eastern ON will lead this comprehensive course at Whole Circle Farm, a biodynamic mixed farm near Acton. Participants will see Whole Circle's amazing composting system, and learn about biodynamic compost preparations. Cost is $70 discounts for EFO members and CRAFT apprentices! Canada's Top Chefs Cook Out to Stop the Mega Quarry Oct. 16th 12pm-3pm. Various Farms in Honeywood area. Join Chef Michael Stadtlander and 70 of the best chefs from across Canada for an outdoor, pay-what-you can, public food event in support of the movement to Stop The Mega Quarry. All funds raised will go to fighting the mega quarry application that has been put forward by the Highland Companies to create a limestone quarry over 2,300 acres in size on prime, fertile agricultural land and digging into pristine aquifers. Each chef will prepare one item, celebrating the local bounty and encouraging Ontarian's to stand up and have their voice heard by the government. Everyone is welcome! http://canadianchefscongress.com/
Bring Food Home is Ontario's bi-annual conference connecting food and farming leaders working towards a sustainable food system. The 2011 conference theme is ―Preparing the Ground for a Sustainable Food System‖ At Trent University in Peterborough, October 27th, 28th and 29th. The first day of the conference will be dedicated to Farmer Training. We hope that you can join us and be a part of transforming the future of food!
Have an upcoming event? OCO can help promote your events and exhibitions in our Newsletter and our online events page/calendar. It’s easy. Simply send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Foodland Ontario Organic is Here! A Foodland Ontario marketing survey conducted in 2011 indicated that more than onequarter of shoppers surveyed would buy organic more often if they knew it was from Ontario. To appeal to Ontario consumers who shop for organic products and help them to choose Ontario organic foods first, Foodland Ontario has a new resource for producers and processors to identify their food as both certified organic and local. Producers and processors who want to use the logo on their promotional and marketing materials will need to verify that their products are certified to the Canadian Organic Standard as well as meet the Ontario food definitions found on the Foodland Ontario website: http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english/industry/ind-definitions.html For more information on how to get the Foodland Ontario Organic logo, contact the Client Services Officer, Sandra Jones, at email@example.com or 519-826-3947 (toll free 1888-466-2372 ext. 63947).
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again - Interpreting the Organic Standards The Canadian Organic Standards (COS) were voluntary until 2009. They became mandatory when the Organic Products Regulations (OPR) were implemented in June 2009. Many meetings of the CGSB Committee on Organic Agriculture (TC) were held to revise the standards and make them fully applicable. But, transitioning from theory to practice is always challenging. Though revised by talented people, standards can hardly cover all possible scenarios experienced in the real farming world. So, when the Canada Organic Office (COO), the CFIA agency responsible for the monitoring of the OPR, started receiving specific questions about how to apply the standards in given contexts, a decision was made to consult with a committee that would provide clarification on particular issues: the Canadian Standards Interpretation Committee (SIC) held its first meeting in December 2009.
rived; and though the availability on the market of some substances can be a burden, the restrictions on acceptable processes of production must be restated. Specific production requirements are also questioned; some operators want to be confirmed that the general principles of the COS also apply to specific crops, which are perceived as being "aside" the main cropping systems.
Some questions are simple: the answer is Yes or No. But other questions are more complex, some others cannot be clearly interpreted; they reveal a gap or a lack of clarity. The SIC has no authority to revise the COS, and has to be very careful to avoid rewriting the standards; interpreting is reading what is stated and clarifying the original intent of the authors, not going beyond what was written. If faced with a question that highlights an instance of ambiguity or apparent contradiction in the wording of the Standard, the SIC may propose a revision which would involve the CGSB Technical Committee. This is the group legally responsible for Composed of seven members from the TC elected by the Organic Fed- the maintenance of the Standard. Moreover, the PSL proposals being eration of Canada, the SIC analyzes, comments and tries to come to a currently subject to ballot or figuring on the work list of PSL working consensus on the meaning of the standard in a given background. groups cannot be considered: they are not applicable to the work of SIC Farmers need to be practical; they adhere to organic principles, but then until they are inserted in published standards amendments. need to apply or adapt the principles to their practices. And no one wants to lose certification for not having done the right thing. The SIC interprets questions and issues answers that are posted on the COO website to undergo a 60 day comment period. This comment peMore than 50% of the questions received by the SIC are about permitted riod is a clear indication that the standards are really managed by the substances. Some annotations defining the use of substances give whole sector. Should a comment challenge a proposed interpretation, "grounds for interpretation". It is clear when the substance is prescribed the SIC will bring the question back for further discussion, to consider "only" for a specific use or should be derived only from a specific proc- the comment and whether or not to revise the answer. The main puress. But, sometimes the annotation is stated as a general comment that pose of the SIC is to assure uniform application of the rules to all operadoes not seem to exclude some other use. Furthermore, some sub- tors and CBs. The Questions and Answers are posted on the COO webstances are repeated in the same table or in two different tables with site. Questions should be sent to the COO. different annotations. Which annotation should be followed when using this substance? Operators will surely choose the prescription that best fits their needs. But what is the real intent of the standard? This article was written by Nicole Boudreau, Organic Federation of Canada, on behalf of the OACC with funding provided by Canada's Organic Science ClusThe Canadian PSL is a list of permitted substances. But what if a sub- ter (a part of the Canadian Agri-Science Clusters Initiative of Agriculture and stance is not included? Many questions were issued about "absent" sub- Agri-Food Canada's Growing Forward Policy Framework). The Organic Science stances. There are general directives about the use of substances not Cluster is a collaborative effort led jointly by the OACC, the Organic Federation registered on the PSL; they should comply with the general principles of of Canada and industry partners. OACC newspaper articles are archived at 1.4.1. But operators want to be reassured about their practices. There is www.oacc.info one month after publication. For more information : 902-893also ambiguity with processes from which allowable substances are de- 7256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volume 5 Issue 2
New Projects from Canadian Organic Growers PWW With support from OCO, EFO and the Agricultural Management Institute (AMI)*, Canadian Organic Growers PerthWaterloo-Wellington (COG PWW) is creating new tools and programs to strengthen the organic farming sector. Organic Produce Price Tracker Live July 18th Starting July 18th and continuing throughout the year, you will be able to visit www.organicpricetracker.ca to search for farmers‘ market and wholesale/ bulk prices for certified organic produce in your region. The project is still looking for farms to participate by providing their prices, particularly wholesale or bulk prices. Your farm will not be identified and your prices will be factored into a range displayed for your region, but you will be supporting a project that benefits the organic farming community as a whole, especially new farmers. Please contact Tegan Renner at COG PWW if you would like to get involved: email@example.com or 226-251-3012. Certified Organic Seed Database Set for November Release An online searchable database will feature certified organic seed varieties for produce and field crops, making the annual, labour-intensive task of sourcing organic seed easier for farmers. COG PWW is seeking to form a bit of a farm advisory group to review this tool as it develops. If you are interested in participating, please contact Tegan Renner at COG PWW: firstname.lastname@example.org or 226-251-3012. Transition to Organic Advisor Program You‘ll be able to start referring people to this certification support service by the end of this month. COG PWW piloted this program in 2010 and is not only continuing to offer the service free of charge for 2011-12, but also expanding the coverage area to all of Ontario. Learn more about the program on their website. *The AMI is part of the Best Practices Suite of programs for Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Genetically Modified Update International protection provided to countries that label GM foods as US ends opposition to GM labelling guidelines From The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network: The United Nation's Codex guidelines on GM food labelling are now finalized after 20 years! It should be noted that the guidelines are voluntary and so do not compel countries to label (so this will not result in labelling in Canada for example). However the final agreement on GM food labelling guidelines will provide important protection to nations that establish GM food labelling laws: countries will not face trade challenges at the World Trade Organization based on their labelling of GM foods. This is highly significant for the global future of GM foods. Canada was an obstacle to the labelling guidelines until public pressure changed our government's position - you will remember the action you took with CBAN last year! Thank you for your actions! This outcome took many years of work with groups around the world. It is one of many hard-won, long-fought victories. Thank you everyone for your continued action and support! For more information visit: http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/Labeling
Animated Video on GM Alfalfa Coming Soon to YouTube! This 3.5 minutes animated video is an emotional journey of discovery as the innocent but wise bee finds out that genetically modified alfalfa is "coming soon" and determines to stop it, with help from you! CBAN thinks bees have real star quality. We want to help them to get their message out to every consumer: Why is alfalfa important in food and farming? What is genetically modified alfalfa? Why should we care? How can we stop GM alfalfa together? "Adopt" a cartoon bee today! The film is being produced by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), in collaboration with animator/organic farmer Nathan Carey and Smiley Guy Studios.
Organic Council of Ontario would like to thank CBAN for their hard work on these and other GMO initiatives. We will continue to pursue this issue and would like to remind everyone that Organic is the only way to know your food has not made using GMO’s – marketing materials
Donate today to help put a bee on the Big Screen!
GMO Policy Paper The Organic Trade Association was recently put under a microscope regarding their stance on labelling GMO‘s. In response the OTA has asked its members to help write their policy paper (also known as a white paper) regarding GMOs. OCO submitted feedback relating to the document and we look forward to seeing the next draft of the document. OCO would also like to encourage the Ontario Organic sector to begin the steps of developing a resolution regarding GMOs that would help us at the council ensure we are reflecting the views of the sector. There was some talk at our AGM in March about getting rolling on our Ethics Working Group, which could help facilitate the process of creating our own white paper. To get this working group off the ground we need to know if there is sufficient interest, so if you would like to participate or chair the group, please contact us at the office.
The film is sponsored by the following organizations and businesses that provided matching financial support: The Big Carrot Natural Market Toronto www.thebigcarrot.ca De Dell Seeds Incorporated www.dedellseeds.com Green Being Farm www.greenbeingfarm.ca Nature‘s Path Foods www.naturespath.com The Organic Council of Ontario www.organiccouncil.ca Smiley Guy Studios www.smileyguy.com Organic Agriculture Protection Fund of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate www.oapf.saskorganic.com
Member Profiles: From the OCO Membership Desk: Hello OCO Members! I am happy to report our membership drive is off to a good start and we are excited to welcome some very inspiring new members! Every voice counts as OCO strives to further organic initiatives as well as educate the public around the province. I would also like to put the spotlight on all the members that have renewed over the past few months (listed below). Your continued support is valued and appreciated! As part of the membership drive I have been on the road to visit some potential members as well as attend some events highlighting local and organic food! I was at the Culture and Cuisine Cavalcade put on by Centennial College last month. This event highlighted Chef‘s and their involvement in shaping our food industry. I saw a great opportunity to reach out to the colleges who train Chefs as well as the restaurant industry as they are on the front lines between food and consumers. I was able to visit the Mapleton’s Organic farm to personally welcome them on board and witness all the good things they are doing up there! From the Barnyard, where you can visit some happy animals to the Crop Circle, which demonstrates crop rotation, and most importantly the Ice Cream shop, Mapleton‘s is doing so much to educate the public about organic practices. Martin and Arwa are both dedicated individuals who are not only knowledgeable but passionate about the organic industry. We look forward to working with them! Other inspiring new members are: Filsinger’s Organic Foods who have been doing organic since 1953! Nothing but Nature/ Kiju Juice a local company whose mission is ―to bring to market the finest organic beverage products that support the health and wellness of our consumers, the economic well-being of our grower-partners and the sustainability of our shared environment.‖ Love It! Stoddart Family Farm ―Sustainable Agriculture since 1819! ―Sustainable‖ to us means farming in a way that provides for our family both in the current generation and for the generations to come.‖ Keep up the good work Harry and Silvia! Savage Solutions help consumer packaged goods manufacturers and distributors navigate the complex requirements of large retail banners. Sylvie Savage is a dynamic and driven individual who has extensive experience with organic products!
Michael Theodor Brokerage, Inc. is the oldest established natural Product broker in Canada. As the main principal, Michael Theodor has an extensive background in the natural foods industry, dating back to the mid-sixties. MTB is a national brokerage with offices across Canada. As Canada is a geographically vast country, Michael works closely with an extensive network of natural food and specialty distributors across Canada, concentrating on close communication with the distributors' sales and marketing staff, as well as his own provincial sales force in Eastern and Western Canada. Immediate goals and marketing plans are set for US and Canadian product lines after thorough discussions with Principals. MTB lines also have direct relationships with major chains. www.mtbi.ca With many organic products offered and so much experience in the industry we are proud to welcome MTBI on board! Southbrook Vineyards is the epitome and evolution of Marilyn and Bill Redelmeier's love story with wine, the land, and all things ―local.‖ The winery is situated on a 150-acre vineyard in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula wine region of Ontario, Canada. We produce organic and biodynamic wines that earn recognition, from critics and consumers alike, year after year. From their purchase of the Niagara-onthe-Lake vineyard in 2005, the Redelmeiers committed their energies to sustainable viticulture. By 2008, they had created the first wine estate in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification for its vineyard and winery. Southbrook also takes a leadership role in the wine community by mentoring, educating and sharing in an effort to encourage a growing understanding of organic and biodynamic methods. www.southbrook.com OCO is happy to welcome such a dedicated and pioneering team!
Remember – We always love to hear from you! Please contact me if you have any questions, news or want to chat about Organics. I am here for you!
Interested in having your business in our Member Profile section? Please send a description of you and your business that you wish to have published along with a picture or two to: email@example.com
New Members/ Renewed Members New:
Stoddart Family Farm, Mapleton‘s Organic, Michael Theodor Brokerage, Filsinger Organic Foods, Kiju Juice/Nothing but Nature, Southbrook
Vineyards, Savage Solutions.
Andrew Hammermeister, Harmony Whole Foods Market, UNFI, DeBoer Poultry Farm, Tomas Nimmo, Deerfields Nursary, Elmer & Leona Martin, Earth Valley Organics, The Healthy Butcher, Mountain Path Inc., ProCert Organic Systems, ShaSha Bread Company, Health First Network, Tregunno Fruit Farms, Greenfields Organic Farm, Lebeau Advance, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Farm Start, Organic Garage, Fenwood Farms, Masterfeeds, Homestead Organics, Zephyr Organics Inc.
Volume 5 Issue 2
Dangerous Toxins from Genetically Modified Plants Found in Women and Fetuses By Jeffrey M. Smith, edited by Andrew Alford (University of Guelph) When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto's genetically modified "Bt" corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That's what it was designed to do. The corn's DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the Bt-toxin. It's a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. But Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed the Bt-toxin would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on all of us trusting corn-eating consumers. On the contrary, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn's Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. Links to allergies, auto-immune disease, and other disorders There's already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. In government-sponsored research in Italy, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of allergic and inflammatory responses such as: asthma, arthritis and food allergies. Natural Bt is dangerous? Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years. But they spray it on plants, where it washes off and biodegrades in sunlight. The GM version is built-in, the toxin doesn't wash off; it's consumed. The plant -produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray, is designed to be even more toxic, and has properties of known allergens—it actually fails the World Health Organization's allergen screening
tests. In one instance, 500 people in Washington state and Vancouver showed allergic and flu-like symptoms when they were exposed to the spray when it was used to kill gypsy moths. Bt cotton linked to human allergies, animal deaths Thousands of Indian farm labourers are suffering from the same allergic and flu -like symptoms as those in the Pacific Northwest simply from handling genetically engineered cotton plants that produce Bt-toxin. According to reports and records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies, as well as numerous investigative reports and case studies, workers are struggling with constant itching and rashes; some take antihistamines every day in order to go to work. Living pesticide factories inside us? In the human study, some of the subjects were found to have Roundup Ready gut bacteria! This means that sometime in the past, from eating one or more meals of GM soybeans, the gene that had been discovered in the chemical waste dump and forced into the soy, had transferred into the DNA of bacteria living inside their intestines—and continued to function. That means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have dangerous GM proteins produced continuously inside of us. There is growing concern that as Bt genes colonize the bacteria living in the digestive tract of North Americans, we might see an increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders. Some doctors report seeing such an increase. The discovery of Bttoxin in our blood does not confirm this speculation, but it does provide food for thought.
Opposition Grows to the Melancthon Quarry that Would Destroy Farmland By now it is likely that you have heard about the Mega Quarry that has been proposed on some of Ontario‘s pristine farm land. A Boston hedge fund has purchased a large portion of the potato farms in Melancthon Township in order to build North America‘s second largest open pit mine. OCO has joined a growing movement of Ontarians who are speaking up in opposition to this quarry. Background: • The 2,400 acre open pit would be deeper than Niagara Falls and 200 feet below the water table, disrupting the natural flow of the aquifers that provide water to millions of Ontarians. • This area is also home to some of southern Ontario’s most fertile farm land and the specialty silt loam in this area is renowned for its potatoes. • Melancthon and Mulmur Townships, in the County of Dufferin, are situated on the headwaters of the Grand and Nottawasaga Rivers. • Potatoes from this area supply 90% of Toronto’s demand—this is sustainable, local agriculture at its best. • The mining operation would require the DAILY use of 600,000,000 litres of water. This is equivalent to 25% of daily water use in all of Ontario. • The operation would see 7,200 plus trucks a day (3,600 in and 3,600 out) on the roads—most likely Highways 124 and 89. • The plans call for rehabilitation of the mine back into agriculture. However, it is unclear what crops are able to grow in a 200 foot hole. • There has been no analysis of the economic impact on the loss of farming jobs to the community, or to the impact of the loss of 2,400 acres of prime agricultural land or its impact on food prices. Furthermore, no analysis has been done on the impact on tourism and existing business due to blasting, noise, dust and traffic. Please visit http://www.citizensalliance.ca or http://www.ndact.com for more information. Organic Council of Ontario has joined the movement demanding the Quarry be Stopped! The Organic Council of Ontario answered the call from community organizers to write letters to government officials regarding the EPA for the quarry. In the letter written to the Premiere, the Minister of Agriculture, and other relevant ministers, dated July 5th 2011, OCO urged the government ensure the quarry project be ―subject to the more appropriate and comprehensive Environmental Assessment Act. As it stands, the mega quarry proposal simply requires a zoning change under the Planning Act and a licence from the Ministry of Natural Resources under the Provincial Aggregate Resources Act- an inadequate process for dealing with the huge impact this proposal will have on the region and Ontarians.‖ Our letter goes on to state ―the potential risks of this project cited by experts and scientists prior to even conducting an EA suggest invoking the Precautionary Principle and refuse permitting of this project.” Executive director of OCO, Jodi Koberinski notes that the Ontario Organic sector, alongside the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, feels that ―the ‗override‘ aggregate extraction enjoys from the EA process- render farm communities powerless to prevent the stripping of the countryside.‖ This is reminiscent of major issues that have arisen in Ontario‘s First Nations communities, where large corporations have engaged in resource extraction on First Nations land regardless of opposition from those communities. More action is needed to ensure the Mega Quarry does not destroy our ability to farm in Ontario or to drink clean water. The Organic Council of Ontario is asking people to join 70 Canadian Chefs and 20,000 other people at FOODSTOCK to taste the bounty of land threatened by the mega-Quarry. This will take place on 4 farms that refused to sell out in near Honeywood, Ontario, on Highway 124. Admission: Pay what you can to support the cost of fighting the Quarry! http://canadianchefscongressfoodstock.eventbrite.com/
Join us at:
Stop the Mega Quarry!
Highlights from OMAFRA’s ON Organic Newsletter Full newsletters are posted on the OMAFRA website at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/organic/news/news-organic.html New Risk Management Programs for Ontario Farmers Risk management programs help Ontario farmers deal with risks that are beyond their control. The provincial government is providing risk management programs for the cattle, grains and oilseeds, hog, sheep and veal sectors. The Province is also providing a self-directed risk management program for the edible horticulture sector. Commodity organizations developed their own proposals – proposals that are supported by their members because they meet the needs of their members. Ontario will fund the risk management programs at the full amount of its traditional 40 per cent share. These programs join Production Insurance and AgriStability as one more component of an effective risk management package. Agricorp will administer the programs on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. More>> http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/rmpindex.html Precautionary Labelling Encouraged for Cereal Products The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is now urging manufacturers and importers of any grain-based products to inform consumers of the possible presence of low wheat levels in their products to avoid reactions among people with extreme wheat allergies. Since cereal grains are often grown close to other types of grain and are sometimes harvested using the same equipment it‘s extremely difficult to exclude all traces of wheat from other cereal grains – which could potentially pose a hazard to some consumers. Learn more at http:// www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/labeti/allerg/20110520inde.shtml ‘Ontario Food Cluster’ Eyes International Growth and Investment The newly created Ontario Food Cluster is eager to help expand Ontario‘s agri-food sector internationally and attract more foreign investment. Last month, the City of Guelph and the University of Guelph formally joined other Ontario Food Cluster partners in the Greater Toronto Area and Waterloo Region to work collaboratively to increase foreign investment and international trade opportunities, while promoting the competitive advantages of joining Ontario‘s agri-food sector. Learn more at http://www.ontariofoodcluster.com/ A Tool to Attract Investors and Make Connections A new publication, called the Agri-Food Asset Map, contains key highlights of Ontario's competitive advantages, its strengths and success stories. It outlines opportunities in the food sector and provides an overview of Ontario‘s food processing research and development excellence, as well as research contacts. Jointly created by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Asset Map is a publication that can help you ‗make the case‘ and get the contacts needed for future growth. A limited number of print copies are available from Shirley Newell , while both the Executive Summary at http://ww.omafra.gov.on.ca/ english/research/ktt/agrifoodassetmap.pdf and the full document at http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/publications/documents/ Agrifood_Summary_Nov2010_ENG_AODA.pdf are also available online. Important Update for Importers and Brokers The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is implementing phased changes to import notification requirements at http://inspection.gc.ca/ english/fssa/invenq/20110505e.shtml to improve the availability of information it uses to identify and track food products whenever food safety issues occur. Phase 5 came into effect last month and includes select commodities, which can be found in Annex 1 at http:// inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/invenq/20110505e.shtml#oncor Those commodities have also been added to the CFIA‘s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Codes) at http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/eservices/ogd-amg/hs-sheng.html Importers and brokers are expected to notify the CFIA using the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to ensure products coming into Canada are released. If you don‘t have an EDI profile, you need to get one. The Automated Import System (AIS) Participant's Information Document provides more information on the EDI. To get a copy of this document, contact the EDI coordinator at EDICoordination@inspection.gc.ca or call 613-773-5322. If you have questions about any notification requirements for products in the non-federally registered sector, contact CFIA's Ontario-area import coordinator Latika Mogla at Latika.Mogla@inspection.gc.ca or 416-667-4674. New Resources from AAFC’s Food Regulatory Issues Division The Food Regulatory Issues Division (FRID) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is committed to providing the Canadian food and beverage industry with up-to-date information on domestic regulatory issues that have an impact on investment, innovation and competitiveness, particularly in relation to health claims, novel foods and ingredients. To this end, FRID has introduced a revamped website at http:// www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1171305709916%26lang=eng, and a Canadian Food Health Claim Roadmap at http:// cc.on24.com/event/28/70/38/rt/1/images/player_docanchr_1/aafc_canadian_food_health_claim_roadmap_march_8.pdf to help with health and nutrient-related decisions. There are also webcasts at http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFCAAC/display-afficher.do?id=1281029138003% 26lang=eng with up-to-date information on food policy and regulations, the latest news on the proposed redefinition for dietary fibre and novel food regulations at http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1300301017128%26lang=eng, plus a Summary Report at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/agr/A72-97-2010-eng.pdf that includes marketplace and consumer trends and scientific evidence on food-health connections.
Volume 5 Issue 2
Regulatory Affairs Update
Policy & Regulatory News: Canada’s Organic Rules in Full Force OTTAWA, Canada (June 30, 2011) -- Canada‘s Organic Products Regulations will be fully enforced after June 30, two years after the regulations became law in 2009. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has followed a two-year Stream of Commerce and Enforcement Policy, allowing operators time to become fully compliant with the regulations. During this ―phase-in‖ period, the CFIA managed minor non-compliances through notification and education, requiring correction within reasonable timelines. ―Full compliance with all provisions of the Organic Products Regulations is now mandatory. The Stream of Commerce policy was a great help for organic operators working to bring their documentation and labeling into compliance,‖ said Matthew Holmes, Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. ―Now products labeled as ‗organic‘ in Canada and subject to the regulations must be certified by a CFIA-accredited certification body, and all organic product labels must carry the name of the certifier.‖ The CFIA consulted with the organic sector to build upon the pre-existing industry self-regulated standards. The 2009 regulations made Canada's organic standards mandatory for both domestic and imported products, and launched the now familiar ―Biologique Canada Organic‖ logo, which allows consumers to identify products that meet Canada's organic requirements. The CFIA oversees and enforces the organic certification system, as well as organic claims in the marketplace. Now in full effect, the Organic Products Regulations have leveled the playing field and given both domestic and foreign consumers confidence in the organic label. For more information on Canada‘s Organic Product Regulations, please visit the CFIA website at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/orgbioe.shtml
Reorganization of CFIA A major internal reorganization is underway at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that will impact the Canada Organic Office (COO). COO will now move from the AgriFood Division, responsible for all food and food safety programs, to the Consumer Protection Branch of CFIA. The Consumer Protection Branch has broad power in the realm of product review and enforcement. This move aligns well with the end of the ―stream of commerce‖ on June 30, and COO‘s move to stricter enforcement of the Organic Products Regulations.
Canadian Organic Sector Celebrates Trade Deal with Europe Canada and the European Union have reached an historic agreement to recognize each other's organic standards and laws, after nearly four years of formal negotiation. This is the world's second such agreement. In June 2009, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture signed the very first "organic equivalency arrangement," which opened the significant U.S. organic market to Canadian exports.
EU Organic Logo
The global organic trade is now estimated at over $55 billion per year, with 96% of this represented by the U.S. and EU markets. Canada is now the only country in the world able to deal directly with these two key markets through its domestic standards. "This is an absolute game-changer for Canadian farmers and food manufacturers," said Matthew Holmes, Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade Association, and an organic sector advisor to the Government of Canada on international trade and market access. "With full access to European markets, suppliers, and ingredients, Canada's organic sector now has a strategic edge. This agreement will increase trade and boost Canada's organic sector, from the farm to the consumer." COTA calculates the Canadian organic market has grown from $2 billion in 2008 to over $2.6 billion in 2010. Canadian companies annually export over $390 million worth of organic commodities, ingredients and products to the U.S., EU and other parts of the world. Since 2008, COTA has coordinated a Long-Term International Strategy for the organic sector, with roughly $500,000 in cumulative matching funds contributed through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada‘s AgriMarketing Program to support Canadian companies branding and marketing their organic products around the world. "This recognition of Canada's organic standards by both the EU and U.S. shows that Canada's organic standards are among the best in the world," said Holmes. "This agreement also means consumers at home will know that strong organic standards have been followed in order to enter our country, while eliminating the burdensome costs of multiple organic certifications now carried by farmers, processors and traders." http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2011/05/c9166.html - From The Canada Organic Trade Association
Market & Consumer Trends
Getting More Organic & Local Food on Our Forks! Consumer trends are showing continued positive signs. The forthcoming 2011 Ontario Organics Consumer Usage and Attitudes Study (funded by the Ontario Government) found 55% of shoppers indicate buying organic food frequently or occasionally in 2011, up 6 points from 2009 (49%). As with many other studies, this study reports the most significant barriers to purchasing organic food continues to be perception that organic is more expensive / too expensive. In a recent Thompson‘s Reuters survey (2011) about consumer choice concerning food, 58% of the respondents said that given a choice, they prefer to eat organic food.
Belief that organically produced food is healthier than non-organic has increased 10% over the past two years (up from 61% in 2009 to 71% in 2011) and it is possible that this has contributed to an increase in organic food purchasing.
Sales and Growth Increasing Organic sectors in Ontario, US, Canada and globally continue to be fertile ground for farmers and businesses. According to Organic Monitor estimates, global organic sales reached $54.9 billion in 2009, up from, $50.9 billion in 2008. At the same time organic acreage increased by 2 million acres. The countries with the largest markets are the United States, GerCertification Is Still Very Important many, and France. The highest per capita consumption is in Denmark, SwitCertification is a factor that may improve the value for money proposizerland, and Austria which represents a great opportunity given the recent tion for organic, as it remains an important requirement for consumers to EU-Canada equivalency agreement . purchase organic. Currently, there is low awareness of the Canadian OrThere are positive signs in the US organic sector with economic growth ganic Certification symbol – 24% report having seen it before, but it apand job creation in 2010. In the current marketplace where ―flat is the new pears to be highly valued by shoppers. Fully 88% feel it is important to have growth,‖ the organic sector continues to outpace other areas of the econa Federal organic certification symbol – including 45% who feel it is ―very‖ omy. According to OTA‘s 2011 Organic Industry Survey the pace of important. growth for the organic industry increased nearly eight percent overall in 2010 to reach over $28.6 billion, with some segments enjoying annual USDA Labeled Foods Get Higher Premiums growth of well over 30 percent. New research published in the Journal of Food Quality and Preference, shows that on average consumers are willing to pay $1.20 /lb extra for Job Gains Accompany Organic Sector Growth product with a general organic label and up to $3.50/lb extra for product This economic growth may explain how the organic sector has been labeled USDA Organic. The study looked at consumers‘ willingness to pay able to buck the trend of widespread economic sluggishness, as the organic for general/USDA Organic labels on chicken breasts and found that occaindustry created jobs in 2010. 40% of responding companies reported addsional buyers of organic were willing to pay a 35.7% and 97.3% premium ing full time positions in 2010, while only 12% of companies reported a while habitual buyers were willing to spend a premium of 146.6% for gendecrease in full-time employment. 29% of companies reported adding parteral and 244.3% for USDA certified organic labeled chicken breast. The time positions, while only 8% reported eliminating part time employees. study concludes that ―for all buyer types, USDA organic certification was 46% of responding companies anticipate adding employees in 2011, while valued more than the general organic label implying that consumers trust only 5% of respondents expect to decrease employment. the USDA organic products more than a general organic label.‖ A separate study done by researchers at Ohio State University suggests Increasing Organic Acreage in Ontario that consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic foods, even Ontario is following the world trend and has seen increases in organic those with less than 100% organic ingredients. Researchers found a high production. A forthcoming OCO funded survey, ‗Certified Organic Producconsumer willingness to pay for multi-ingredient, processed organic food tion in Ontario for 2010‘ shows a 6.7% increase in organic acreage in Onproducts. The research also showed significant differences in willingness tario over 2009 numbers. depending on consumer groups, suggesting that targeted marketing may be effective for organic merchandisers. Where Consumers Like to Buy When it comes to buying produce, 43 percent of people would like to Organic Consumers Choose Based on Values get their fruits and veggies at a farmers market. Supermarkets come in sec―New‖ organic food consumers had different purchasing habits and val- ond at 32 percent. And home gardens are third at 20 percent. ues than ―dedicated‖ organic food consumers. The decision to buy organic food was driven by apprehension about conventionally produced foods and Impediments to Growth in Organics a desire to find alternative, high-quality food products that provided peace Barriers to growth continue to prevent the organic sector from reaching of mind (ie, fewer pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics). its full potential. Some barriers expressed by organic growers and sellers are highlighted in the Organic Federation of Canada‘s survey, ―Organic 5 Underlying Values and Beliefs of Canadian Organic Food Consumers: Products Regulations – How Do They Impact Your Activities‖. One of the 1. Eating safe and healthy food major issues expressed was the lack of government support to educate the 2. Ethical and altruistic considerations public of the organic industry. Increasing government support is an impor3. Trust in the food supply tant step to ensure the organic industry is viable and well understood by 4. Being empowered the public. 5. Importance of community and culture. To that end, the Organic Council of Ontario has been working with the The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior Ontario Government and Foodland Ontario to produce a Foodland Ontario Organic logo. This symbol will help clarify for consumers that the The Difference Organic Makes: Health produce being sold has the qualities of being organic and local – a great 7 in 10 shoppers indicate seeing organic food at their grocery store, at combination! least occasionally according to the Consumer Usage and Attitudes Study. The public is aware of the organic food category and believe the major This article was written by Jacob Pries (Organic Council of Ontario) differences between organic and non-organic food are the non-use of pestiand Andrew Alford (University of Guelph). If you would like more cides, hormones and antibiotics in organic food production. information please contact the OCO office at 519-827-1221.
Volume 5 Issue 2
Get Engaged with Ontario Organics! & Classifieds
Hart House Fundraiser
Organic Awards 2011
In 2010 we held an incredible fundraising event for the Organic Council. We are doing it again this fall!
Organic Council of Ontario is hosting the
Organic Dinner and Jazz Night
At Hart House, University of Toronto November 25th 2011.
Nomination forms will be available shortly
Make this your family, friend or business holiday party. Group Rates available.
In OCO’s Office
We want YOU to be involved! OCO Working Groups are: Marketing Ontario Organics, Regulatory Affairs, Policy Development/Ethics, Food Safety Issues.
2nd Annual Ontario Organic Awards at the Guelph Organic Conference
OCO is offering internships: We are looking for individuals interested in aiding in our research, outreach, and communications activities. Must be able to provide own transportation.
If you would like to be part of the nominations committee or the planning committee, please contact our office.
For details visit organiccouncil.ca or email our office.
October 15-22, 2011 Canada‘s second annual celebration of Organic Week will promote the organic market across the country. This year‘s program will include an integrated social media campaign to highlight events at retail, farmers‘ market, restaurants and the community level. COTA is currently accepting applications for official sponsors, which includes a full recognition program, including the Organic Week website, marketing opportunities, input into the national campaign, recognition on the Organic Week official poster and invitations to COTA‘s popular Parliament Day Conference and government reception. You can visit our webpage to find out more on how to get involved in this year‘s Organic Week. Published in conjunction with Organic Week 2011, COTA will again partner with The Globe and Mail national newspaper to offer a special feature section aimed at consumers and trumpeting the benefits of choosing organic. The Globe and Mail reaches over 1.3 million readers and opinion leaders. Take advantage of this opportunity to get your marketing message seen during Organic Week: more information is available here. Get involved: you can follow Organic Week on Twitter and ‗like‘ Organic Week on Facebook!
~ Classifieds ~ .
Southbrook Vineyards is offering for sale Pro-cert and Demeter certified hay - 3000 bales at 20 kg (44.5 lbs.) each and 100 round bales at 160 kg (350 lbs.) each. Please contact Ann Sperling at (905) 3809095 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for availability and pricing.
La Siembra Immediate needs include apple, pear and grape juice or puree. Future needs could include dried fruits, nuts, wild rice, grains, etc. The sky is the limit! Please contact Jennifer Williams directly if you can advise: Jennifer@lasiembra.com
OCO MEMBERS ADVERTISE FREE! Send us your event, classifieds, help wanted or other promotional information and we will be sure to add it to the newsletter and to our website. Send to: Jacob@organiccouncil.ca
Board of Directors 2011 Matt LeBeau Chair LeBeau Advance
Ted Soudant Vice Chair Field Gate Organics
Ted Zettel Director, Regulatory Affairs Organic Meadow Cooperative
David Konrad Director Quality Assurance International
Michelle Jory Director Ecological Farmers of Ontario
Member at Large
Bernd Licht Treasurer Puresource Inc.
Maureen Kirkpatrick Secretary Big Carrot
Direct to Consumer (Retail & Restaurants) Representative
Gavin Dandy Director Everdale Organic Farm & Environmental Learning Centre
Hugh Martin Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs
5420 Highway 6 North Guelph, ON N1H 6J2
Gilbert Arnold Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Staff 2011 Jodi Koberinski Jacob Pries Executive Director Communications
Melissa Miller Membership
Treena Adhikari Events
Tara Scott Accounting
Phone: 519.827.1221 E-mail: email@example.com web: www.organiccouncil.ca
The Organic Council of Ontario and its members represent Ontarioâ€˜s organic farmers, producers, processors, marketers, d i s t r i b u t o r s , retailers, restaurants, certifiers and others, providing leadership and support for the continued growth of the organic sector.
OCO is a strong voice for the sector with media, government, national bodies, and represents Ontario on the Organic Federation of Canada.
The Organic Council of Ontario gratefully acknowledges financial support provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Announcing the Canadian Organic Science Conference!