Naturland farmers and processors have been ground-breaking global pioneers for over 30 years. The world’s first ever conversion to organic agriculture of tea gardens in Sri Lanka and India in the 1980s was the prelude to our successful work on an international scale. Currently 38,000 farmers in 44 countries manage an area of some 320,000 hectares according to the Naturland standards. To Naturland, organic agriculture means combining tradition with modern practices and experience with the courage to adopt new approaches.
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The European Patent Office (EPO) is currently examining a patent on salmon fed with specific plants (EP1965658). From a communication to the Australian applicant, the patent looks as if it could probably be granted within the next few months, according to the German campaign “Kein Patent auf Leben!”. The subject of the patent is the fish itself and its oil. It is claimed that foodstuffs derived from this salmon are expected to have a higher content of Omega 3 fatty acids which are often described as highly nutritious and healthy. Naturland gives its full backing to this campaign’s call for action to be taken against this patent.
The claims made to justify patent protection are highly dubious. “If animals are to become an invention because they feed on specific fodder, then soon all cows and sheep will be patented that graze on grasslands. Or even people, if they drink milk or eat fish,” says Ruth Tippe, spokesperson for “Kein Patent auf Leben!”.
Naturland calls for a new approach to cocoa farming on the occasion of World Chocolate Day, 7th July
On average, Germans polish off 116 bars of chocolate a year. Of these, only some two and a half bars are organic and fair trade. Most of the smallholders, who grow over 90% of the cocoa produced world-wide, live in dire poverty. Recent headlines such as “Sweet Chocolate Made From Bitter Beans” have been a rude awakening for the consumer and have resulted in ever more advertisements for chocolate displaying various conventional sustainability labels. The only real alternative, however, is organic farming in combination with fair trade.
“Cocoa farming can only be considered sustainable if the farming system is organic and the cocoa sold through fair trade channels, meaning that the farmers can earn a living from the few hectares of land they own. All other claims are just window dressing to deceive the consumer,” says Hans Hohenester, the president of Naturland on the occasion of World Chocolate Day on 7th July.
On an increasing scale, tropical fruit is being promoted in German retail stores with the aid of various conventional sustainability labels. In the view of the human rights organisation Oxfam, however, in most cases this is nothing less than a “fraudulent misrepresentation in the supermarket”. In its survey entitled “Sweet Fruit, Bitter Truth“, Oxfam criticises the production conditions and the use of pesticides on banana and pineapple plantations in Costa Rica and Ecuador which display the Rainforest Alliance label on their products.
Naturland sees the Oxfam survey as confirmation of its claim that only organic is really sustainable. This assessment was also recently corroborated by testers of Stiftung Warentest (an independent German consumer organisation) which evaluated six different sustainability labels. Their clear conclusion: “The Naturland Fair label sets the highest standards”. By contrast, Rainforest Alliance was rated by the testers as the label which makes the lowest demands: it focuses primarily on increasing production yet does not guarantee the smallholders minimum prices or bonus payments, for example.
Managers and partners involved in a project entitled “Green Innovation Centres for the Agricultural and Food Sectors” from various African countries and from India paid a visit to Naturland on 12th May. This visit was part of a conference on organic agriculture organised by the GIZ (German agency for International Cooperation). Interesting options for possible future co-operation became evident.
The objective of the tour was to inform market players, representatives of the organic industry and researchers in Germany, among others, about the Green Innovation Centres project, and to help them to network. Naturland was a guest at the conference and arranged for the participants to pay a visit to its head offices.