A look toward Agri-Culture of the Future
Demeter International Members’ Assembly held in Finland adopts mission paper
In the face of current challenges in food and farming – devastating milk prices for conventional dairy farms, extreme weather events as a consequence of climate change, financial speculation on farm land – the urgent need for a paradigm change in food and farming systems becomes more and more obvious. Biodynamic farming provides holistic models for societal change. Representatives of Demeter and Biodynamic associations from 23 different countries on five continents have met for their annual assembly in Finland from 13th to 18th June to discuss and adopt strategies for the further development of food and farming.
While Demeter together with the organic and environmental movements stands for farm systems that help to tackle environmental challenges, respect ecological systems and practice careful use of natural resources, Demeter also fosters cultural change. This includes a change of mind-sets along with new forms of social and economic cooperation which can lead to a truly sustainable agri-Culturethat serves human society. As a common basis for these efforts, the Demeter International Members’ Assembly has ratified a Vision, Mission and Principles paper that describes the common mission to come to an “agri-Culture that impels and enables people to unfold their individual potential and develop their full consciousness”.
Demeter International members also agreed on a position regarding new gene technologies such as CRISPR-Cas, Cisgenetics or TALEN. Those technologies are technical interventions into the cell and the genome, under investigation in recent years by companies and scientists in plant and animal breeding, with some plant varieties now ready to be launched in the market. These techniques have to be regulated just as the older GMOs are: They must be subject to risk assessment and labelling, also the possibility of retrieving them must be ensured by lawmakers. Biodynamic and organic agriculture in connection with Biodynamic breeding have a holistic view of agri-Culture and therefore provide better approaches to solve complex future challenges than single sided technological approaches. Those technologies lead into further intensification of farming systems based on large inputs of chemicals and energy. Therefore, Biodynamic organisations call on policy makers to support research in holistic, sustainable approaches to farming and to stand up for the expansion of Biodynamic and organic farming.
Biodynamic approaches in Finland have been excellently demonstrated by the people that were visited on the Members’ Assembly excursion day. Ari and Ira Hellstén, founders of the ecovillageKurjentila, presented their growing project where working together, international relations, urban-rural exchange and education for ecological consciousness are living practice. Also the Biodynamic farm Rekola, which Kalervo Rekola converted to Biodynamic methods already in the 1970s, was an impressive showcase of the successful implementation of Biodynamic principles. Nowadays, Joona Rekola takes care of arable farming as well as the herd of Limousin cattle that spends summertime in the forest and on the pastures. His companion Henri Murto grows a large variety of vegetables and aims to establish the Rekola garden also as a place for meetings, exchange, education and inspiration.
Demeter International looks optimistically to the future with increasing areas being farmed Biodynamically. Presently 164,000 hectares are Demeter certified in 52 countries. The positive consequences for the earth, for global climate and for the nutrition of mankind are significant and offer encouraging perspectives.