Wednesday, 12 January 2005 03:05
(From Organic Advantage Jan 2005)
The Organic industry has been unsuccessful in achieving a government sponsored Organic Co-operative Research Centre grant from the latest bid process for CRCs. This is a backward step for food and farming science in Australia.
Biological Farmers of Australia Co-op (BFA) was committed to a 7 year $210,000 investment in the proposed Organic Co-operative Research Centre were it to be successful. Other sponsors included Coles Supermarkets as well as industry players including Organic Crop Protectants and Universities and Departments of Agriculture across the country.
"The collaboration would have been an excellent move forward for innovative modern biologically based agricultural research of benefit to both the farming community and the broader environment. Particularly it would have assisted in growing the organic industry, which continues to show demand in the marketplace domestically and internationally, whilst being limited by supply and science based understanding of organic production practices‰ noted Dr Andrew Monk, CEO of BFA.
"This multi-disciplinary, nationally based grouping of researchers would have overseen the commissioning of independent research in fields such as nutrition and food quality as well as integrated, biologically oriented sustainable farming systems, enabling Australia to capitalise on its natural advantages as well as finding solutions to some of our ongoing environmental challenges.
"At a time when the EU is delving further into this type of research*, this is clearly a backward step for Australia. There is a growing trend in both agricultural policy, as well as food policy more generally internationally, toward support for organic food and farming systems. There is a need for a long term approach of support for this industry, it is not something that can be turned on over night. We are talking a profound and fundamental change in the way we do science research and the way we practice and support our food and farming systems in Australia", said Monk.
Co-operative Research Centres are usually industry or "issue" specific networks of researchers, supported by industry and matching government funding, which assists in multi-disciplinary research of benefit to the industry and other stakeholders.
The BFA, which via its subsidiary Australian Certified Organic Pty Ltd (ACO) collects more than half the voluntary organic industry levies and membership fees, will now seek other avenues to ensure that industry members' levies are equaled by government supported grants to progress the interests of the industry and in turn the Australian environment.
R&D in organics will be featured in the Next Edition of the Australian Organic Journal.
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