in the 18th IFOAM World Organic Congress
13th-15th October 2014
During the last Organic World Congress (OWC) in Istanbul (13th-15th October 2014) the COBRA consortium jointly organized with the SOLIBAM project, IFOAM and RAFI USA a pre-conference (“Reinvigorating Seeds and Breeds for a More Organic World”) and a workshop in the practitioners’ track on organic seed.
The main outcome of the pre-conference was the proposal to the IFOAM General Assembly to establish a permanent working group for Seeds and Breeds within IFOAM. The main objective of this working group will be to stress the importance of seeds and breeds for developing organic agriculture within the IFOAM movement. To do so many proposals have been suggested: (1) establish two separate regular pre-conferences one on plant and one animal genetic resources at the next OWC;
(2) consider seeds and breeds as keywords in the future calls for the OWC;
(3) consider to have an entire Seed and Breed track in the OWC;
(4) consider to have enough time during the next OWC 17 to share overviews over seed and breeding related activities on each continent.
This last point – the sharing of knowledge and experiences from different countries and continents – was one of the concerns raised by many persons that participated to the two events. During these events Michael Sligh and George Siemon from RAFI-USA presented the situation in the United States, Jane Rabinowicz from the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security presented the situation in Canada and Véronique Chable and Riccardo Bocci from COBRA and SOLIBAM presented the situation in Europe with a focus on the SOLIBAM policy recommendations.
The IFOAM General Assembly has approved the recommendation from the pre-conference, and thus this group will take shape as a permanent working group for seeds and breeds within the IFOAM structure, with a permanent add-on meeting to take place at future IFOAM Congresses. The next steps for this group are that the organizers of the meetings will complete the formal application for self-organizing working groups in IFOAM, and send this to the board. The IFOAM Board should approve this at the April meeting. In the meantime, some of the organizers will begin to compile a database for membership, as agreed during the pre-conference. Initially this database will build on the European COBRA network and a list currently being maintained from Bernd Horneburg.
At the same time during the two events Monika Messmer from FIBL and on behalf of the ECOPB consortium (European Consortium on Organic Plant Breeding) presented the two motions on varieties derived from cell fusion that the Consortium submitted at the General Assembly. The aims of these motions are to:
1. Develop a strategy for the replacement of varieties derived from cell fusion, including protoplast and / or cytoplast fusion from organic farming practices;
2. Define guidelines for the socio-economic implementation of such strategies;
3. Promote alternative breeding programs such as organic plant breeding to foster the development of cell fusion free varieties.
Riccardo Bocci, Task 4.2, WP4 coordinator