By Julie Bonnin
On the surface at least, large organic cotton producers in the U.S.A. may seem to have little in common with someone harvesting organic grains on a small family farm in Italy. Nor is there much overlap between gatherers of bat guano in Madagascar for use in organic fertilizers, or the laborers who sort through organic tea leaves in China.
But a conference this week in Modena, Italy strives to unite such disparate players in the growing worldwide market of organic goods.
The 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress, June 18-20, is expected to draw 2,000 people to hear keynote speakers ranging from top scientists to cultural icons such as the founder of the “Slow Food Movement,” Carlo Petrini.
IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, is a non-profit organization that represents 750 organizations in more than 100 countries. Some of the world’s leading organic practitioners, policy makers, scientists and others convene annually for the conference. This year’s topics are as wide-ranging as those in attendance. Workshops include industry challenges such as third party certification, internal control systems and development of world-wide standards for organics.
A day-long session will address farming practices and the ways organic agriculture can help to combat climate change. Participants will also meet to discuss specialized topics like textiles, wines and cosmetics.
Bolivian President Evo Morales is scheduled to talk about the need for modern leaders to draw on the wisdom of indigenous ancestors.
American presenters include Frances Moore Lappé, author of the book “Diet for a Small Planet,” agro-ecologist Miguel Altieri, from the University of California at Berkeley, and obstetrician Michel Odent, a pioneer of natural childbirth.
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