Slow Food

Sustainable Agriculture, Defense of Biodiversity and Fair Trade, together against poverty

Poland - 04 Sep 07

Funded by the European Union, in March 2007 the NGO CEFA the Seed of Solidarity, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Fairtrade Italia gave the go-ahead to start a three-year European project to make the public aware of the theme of sustainable development and the problems of low income countries, thereby facilitating interrelationships between poor and developed countries. The project envisages the setting up of a permanent European ‘observatory’ for the defense of biodiversity, the support of forms of sustainable agriculture, and the promotion and the certification of fair trade products with a special website, as well as the promotion of information and sensitization activities in the course of international events. The first one in program is the Tradition and Innovation in Agriculture event, that will take place September 7, 2007. The main products featured are honey and wild foods, each with a dedicated workshop. These two types of produce play an important role in the economies of Eastern Europe and are often commercialized on local markets. Honey and wild foods are thus interesting examples of short food chains and represent a unique heritage of biodiversity that should be protected. For the occasion Slow Food will be presenting the Presidia for mead (Poland), white honey (Ethiopia), Saxon village fruit preserves (Romania) and infusions and wild fruits of Rosson (Belarus). The Presidia are projects supported by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity to protect small producers and preserve quality artisan products. They aim to ensure a future for local food communities by organizing producers, seeking new market outlets, and raising the profile of flavors and terroirs. The other events of the three-year project are: Slow Food International Congress (Puebla, Mexico, November 8-11, 2007), Ifoam “Cultivate the Future” Congress (Modena, Italy, June 16-20, 2008), Terra Madre (Turin, Italy, October 23-27, 2008), Aux Origines du Goût (Montpellier, France, 2009) and others in Cyprus (June 2008) and Tanzania (September 2009). Editorial and educational material will be published, and a series of information activities and training sessions will be provided specifically for the managers of fair trade retail outlets. The project will seek to make European citizens aware of the risks involved in the progressive and dramatic loss of biodiversity, of agro-biodiversity in particular. In the last century, 250,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct at a rate of one every six hours. Since the start of the twentieth century, Europe has lost 80% of its agricultural varieties, the USA 93%. Today fewer than 30 varieties feed 95% of the world’s population. This phenomenon is jeopardizing the possibility of effective responses to changes in the environment and the appearance of new diseases, thus prompting a de facto reduction in food security and sovereignty of food in both developed and developing countries. Tied closely to the loss of biodiversity is the process of cultural erosion, which causes greatest concern in developing countries, where the greatest wealth of biodiversity on the planet is to be found. The correlation is by no means random: the animal and vegetable species consumed in the diet of indigenous communities have evolved thanks to the age-old selection carried out by generations of farmers. The loss of a culture is irreversible: with it, the knowledge that has produced and defended our food base also disappears. The farmers and the indigenous communities of the low income countries are the principle custodians of biodiversity and, broadly speaking, of a diet that is qualitatively one of the planet’s best. The project will thus seek to make the European public aware of models of sustainable agriculture, encourage rural development models that respond to the cultural characteristics of local and indigenous communities and boost effective interaction between European and low income countries based on fair trade. The objective is to ensure principles of commercial justice, concrete support and better opportunities for agribusiness production. Part of our future depends on the survival of cultures at times unknown to us but central to the protection of agro-biodiversity, the basis for the future of food for the entire world. Download the PDF format of the complete press kit: