Publications
May 4, 2015

IFOAM President's visit to New Zealand June 15-17


Andre Leu, the President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, paid a flying visit last week. (Many thanks to Bill Quinn of OrganicAgfor donating Andre's airfares to OANZ.)

Category: General
Posted by: admin

Andre Leu, the President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, paid a flying visit last week. (Many thanks to Bill Quinn of OrganicAgfor donating Andre's airfares to OANZ.)

Andre's busy schedule started with giving a briefing on the state of organics internationally to around 30 organic folk at a social event in Peru Cafe's new HQ in Auckland on the evening of June 15 and doing radio, TV and magazine interviews on June 16. (See the ONE News item on 'Call for organic food regulation'  here >> ; listen to Radio NZ Rural News items on Climate Change here >> and Regulation here >> ; and look out for the next issue of Mindfood magazine.)

  On Tuesday June 17 Andre went to Wellington and he and Brendan met with Ministry of Primary Industry officials about the regulation issue. Over drinks and delicious nibbles at Ti Kouka cafe Andre met more local organic folk, and then gave a presentation on the significant role organic farming practices can play in sequestering carbon in the soil, and thus mitigating climate change and adapting to it. (See the key messages on mitigating climate change from his presentation below.)

On the morning of June 18 Andre met with Damien O'Connor and Steffan Browning, the Labour and Green Party spokespersons on agriculture, before returning home to his tropical fruit orchard in northern Queensland.

 

Key messages on mitigating climate change through organic farming techniques

  •  Soils are the world's greatest carbon sink after the oceans.

  •  Over 2700 Gt (Gigatonnes) of carbon is stored in soils worldwide.

  (cf. Atmosphere 780 Gt;  Biomass 575 Gt - most of which is wood - which means that SOILS store over 4 times as much carbon as trees.)

  • While it is important to plant more trees and protect existing natural forests, only soil-based sequestering of carbon has the ability to make a significant difference to mitigating climate change, BUT despite this fact

  • neither soil sequestration nor agriculture is incorporated into any formal agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (despite the best efforts of Andre and others to get it there - but things may just be starting to shift on that).

  • There is now peer reviewed research to show that organic farming practices can sequester from 2.0 - 3.5 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year.

  • If organic practices were used on all the world's farm land (4,883,697,000 ha), even if using the conservative rate of sequestering 2 tonnes/ha/yr, then 9.76 Gt of CO2 - or around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions - would be safely kept in the soil and out of the atmosphere.