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Who owns organic?

(Saturday, Dec. 27, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Michael Sligh, RAFI-USA Program Director, Just Foods and Carolyn Christman:

Organic agriculture is the most dynamic and rapidly growing sector of the global food industry. Its transformation from a small, niche market to a $23 billion enterprise has made "organic" an international phenomenon.

Who Owns Organic, a new report from RAFI-USA, describes the status of organic agriculture and proposes careful monitoring to track the changes that are occurring.

The two commonly used measures - acreage and sales - reflect dramatic growth in the organic market. But growth alone is not all that needs to be measured. Changes in the structure of the industry must be measured as well - such as increasing concentration and reduction in the price premium. It is also important to itemize the challenges facing organic agriculture, such as complex trade systems and the spread of genetically modified crops.

Will organic agriculture remain on the cutting edge and meet its potential? Or will it relinquish this role to the global food system and become little more than a marketing niche - or even the shadow of what it set out to replace?

The question debated now is how to both protect and expand the value of organic food. It is especially important to consider whether the value rests solely in a narrow agricultural framework or --as RAFI-USA believes -- based in a broad ideological framework as being good for the earth, the water, the air, the animals, the workers, the farmers, the consumers, and their communities.

This report is an essential snapshot of organic agriculture in 2003. It contains charts and graphs of global production and sales as well as information on the North American Industry. It offers an extensive bibliography for those wanting to extend their own research. Our hope is that it will inspire greater analysis and conversation about the future of organic food production.

Who owns organic? The answer, of course, is that we all do. You can download the 35 page report from the RAFI-USA website at http://www.rafiusa.org under "What's New", "Publications", "Just Food Resources" or contact us at RAFI-USA, PO Box 649, Pittsboro, NC 27312, USA; phone 919-542-1396.