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October 25th 2001

Ritt på konference i  Snekkersten
Ritt Bjerregaard

Danish food minister launches organic farming site
Most readers of this site will know that Denmark has a minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries who votes and works for organic farming and food production. At last year's conference in Copenhagen Ritt Bjerregaard led the most of Europe towards a common action plan for just that. Now she and her ministry is pushing the process further ahead with a new site: Organic Farming. The site contains a lot of information about Danish as well as European related subjects. 

September 20th 2001

Roundup in Danish ground water
A new investigation made by leading biologists of Denmark shows that the world's most prevailing pesticide Roundup seeps into ground water, also when rules have been followed strictly - in spite of producer Monsantos guarantee that this cannot happen. The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences and the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark release the new results - as part of The Danish Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme - shortly after the Danish Environmental Protection Agency has given a new ten year long permission to market Roundup. The new proves will be taken into account around New Year at a revaluation that may withdraw the permission. Monsanto takes the Danish investigation seriously, but states that the discovery of the pesticide in ground water is probably due to this year's heavy rain fall after a dry summer. This seems like an acknowledgement that Roundup actually can be washed out under certain and not very unusual climatic conditions.

At "The Eighth Symposium on the Chemistry and Fate of Modern Pesticides" in August, the Danish Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Ritt Bjerregaard made a speech, saying among other things, that Denmark is "not willing to accept pesticides unless it’s possible scientifically to guarantee that they are harmless to human health, nature and environment."

September 5th 2001

New fully organic feedstuff plant in Denmark
In answer to the recent problems of keeping organic fodder free of genetically modified organisms (GMO), two Danish feedstuff companies yesterday agreed to establish a common fully organic feedstuff company: Dansk Øko Foder A/S (Danish Organic Fodder Inc.) From the 1st of October Dansk Øko Foder will deal with all organic fodder production for Dansk Landbrugs Grovvareselskab and Carl Rasmussen & Hempler A/S - who together supply about 60 percent of Denmark's total organic fodder  today. The aim is to secure that Danish organic fodder will stay organic.

- If we didn't do this, we would have to leave organic production, says Peter Rasmussen, manager in Carl Rasmussen & Hempler to EcoWeb Denmark. The two companies already cooperate about certain purchases and production. For the new joint company each of the two will contribute with one fodder plant - one for production of poultry fodder, the other for production of cattle fodder. The two types of fodder must be separated, since fishmeal cannot be produced in the same place as fodder for cattle, because of the risk of BSE. The new organic feedstuff plant is a result of the experience that also conventional and organic fodder must be separated because of the risk of GMO. 

August 27th 2001

LØJ-formand Knud Erik Sørensen
Knud Erik Sørensen
chairman of LØJ

Suggestion of  imposing "nature duty" on organic farmers
The chairman of The Danish Association for Organic Farming (LØJ), Knud Erik Sørensen, suggests that organic farmers should give nature minimum five percent of their land as a condition to get economical support. The association also wants to introduce a duty of making "nature plans". The initiative comes in connection with a just released governmental report from the Danish Forest and Nature Agency: "A rich nature in a rich society". The report lines out a plan for the future of Danish nature,
including the establishment of six big national parks and 100.000 hectares of new meadows, besides 300 meter broad buffer zones around vulnerable nature. A good deal of the responsibility that several hundreds of animal and plant species are now getting close to extermination in Denmark is placed with farming, but the report also gives credit to organic farming for its contribution to biological diversity, though much more can be done.

LØJ's initiative is met with criticism from the organic branch of The Danish Farmers' Union who says that it lacks support from the organic hinterland and therefore is likely to cause disunion among organic farmers as a whole.

August 14th 2001

Denmark detects GMO in imported organic fodder
The Danish Plant Directorate has in a recent spot test detected genetically modified organisms (GMO) in organic fodder by eight feedstuff dealer companies. 42 percent of the samples contained GMO to some degree, and only half of the companies were totally free of GMO in their organic products. Eight of 48 samples proved more than one percent of GMO contents in certain ingredients of the fodder. Another spot test in March earlier this year indicated no problems with GMO in organic fodder.

The Danish Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Ritt Bjerregaard, regret this development in a short time, and predicts that the police will be informed about the illegalities. Some of the companies have stopped making contracts about organic fodder because of these problems, but sent at the same time a letter to the Ministry with a request to set a limit of trifles for GMO contents also in organic fodder. The feedstuff dealers agree that the limit must be lower than that of one percent which releases a demand of GMO labelling for conventional products - but also claim that without a "trifle limit" of more than 0,1 percent it will be impossible to import fodder from abroad.

- We can't get a guarantee from any supplier of less than 0,1 percent GMO contents. And when genetically modified wheat will be imported to Denmark, not even a fully organic feedstuff plant can be kept pure. The wind will bring the dust from the fields to the plant, says Søren Nilausen from DLG Økologi.   

July 24th 2001

Bart Jan Krouwel - stifter af Triodosbank
Bart Jan Krouwel
Triodos Bank

Dutch bank buys fifth of Danish organic company
The Dutch Triodos Bank has bought shares equivalent to a fifth part of Aarstiderne ("The Seasons"), the most successful subscription sales company in Denmark, now delivering about 15.000 boxes of organic products every week to customers spread over the country. Including a considerable loan, Aarstiderne will thus have an extra 20 million DKK for developing the company in the next couple of years.

The founder of Triodos Bank, Bart Jan Krouwel, regretted in his presentation at the Danish foodminister Ritt Bjerregaards Copenhagen conference in May the lack of European harmonization for investments in organic farming - which constitutes 15 percent of Triodos' own bank activity. Triodos aims solely at sustainable projects.

July 13th 2001

Danish organic stand in New York
11 Danish companies in cooperation set up the only fully organic stand at the big food fair Fancy Food in New York at the beginning of this week. Two organic dairies Naturmælk and ØkoMælk impressed American importers with their cheese, Urtekram especially with its vegetarian patés, Futura Foods selling dairy products believes now in a soon contract with the big american organic food chain Whole Foods, and also the other participants Tholstrup Cheese, Naturfrisk, Dragsbæk Margarinefabrik, Cerealia Danmark, Svansø, Friland Food and - represented by Futura Foods - Søvind and Thise made good contacts at the fair.

July 9th 2001

Boom in sales of Danish organic pork 
The sale of Danish organic pork has boomed in the first half year of 2001. The organic abattoir Hanegal has sold 44 percent extra and Friland Food more than doubled its sales in the past six months. Friland Food benefits from export channels, well established by its mother company Danish Crown, and this spring there has been a strong demand for organic pork especially from Germany, as a consequence of the foot&mouth disease. Hanegal is accelerating on the home market, thanks to a special team of organic sales promoters making direct contact to consumers in supermarkets. 

June 25th 2001

Denmark hit by a new case of grain fraud
Now the fraud case of non-organic grain from Euro Bio Korn has been officially ended, another one of German origin hits Denmark. The company is Gothaer Gartenbauzentrum from Türingen in Eastgermany. German control authorities have notified the Danish Task Force on Animal Feeding, as well as the Danish Veterinary Administration, since also bread grain is included in the maybe 5.000 tons that has been exported to Denmark, who seems to be the main victim of the fraud. Gothaer Gartenbauzentrum - a company mixed with agriculture - lost its organic authorization when the fraud was detected about half a year ago. All Danish wholesalers have been informed, but the consequences for them are not known until it will be clear which export parties were not organic. 

June 22nd 2001

Chicken farmers will get points for animal welfare
The Task Force on Animal Feeding and Danish experts in animal welfare will late summer release a system of giving points for the quality of life for organic chicken. The Animal Ethical Council published in the beginning of this week a report, showing that the mortality of organic chicken in Denmark is three-four times higher than that of conventional chicken. On that basis the council proposed for example to cage the chicken to prevent them from pecking eachother. The trade organization of organic chicken farmers (Brancheforeningen for Økologiske Æg- og Fjerkræproducenter) refuses such ideas completely, emphasizing that organic chicken welfare is a matter of taking right precautions and also choosing the breeds best capable of a natural life. On the other hand the trade organization warmly welcomes a quality control system, ensuring that farmers will be fined or eventually even deprived of their authorization, if they don't show will to change, after having problems in their poultry keeping pointed out. Otherwise such farmers will damage the image of the whole branch.

June 21st 2001

Black out Bush with
By way of chain emails The Green House Network proposes that the world tonight makes a stand and protest against US president George Bush for his rejection of the Kyoto agreement. With everybody turning off the light between 7 and 10 pm, a voluntary blackout will roll across the planet - and hopefully reach the White House, as well. But the American based network has probably not taken into account that the North of Europe is located as Northern as Alaska, and that the sun on this the longest day of the year therefore is still high up in the sky during the happening. So it will be difficult for us Northerners to black out the Earth.

But wanting to back up the good cause, the "scientific department" of has developed a technical solution of the activist problem. Danes and other North Europeans who wish to support the blackout action can push here at 7 pm.

June 19th 2001

Sales drive for Danish organic food in Sweden, USA - and at home
Based on a promising report about the outlet at the Swedish market, The Centre for Organic Agriculture in Denmark and The Agricultural Council of Denmark last week put Danish organic producers in contact with Swedish retailers. Among other things the companies were cleared about their stand in relation to KRAV certification - which the most interesting Swedish partners demand. The same two organizers also cooperate about a sales drive for Danish organic food products at the Fancy Food fair in New York July 8-10th.

There hasn't been much marketing for organic products at the Danish home market through the past many years of steady growth, but recently the sales in the retail trade seem to have stagnated. Therefore organic meat and milk producers will campaign through the Autumn to increase sales in selected supermarkets, such as Kvickly and Superbrugsen from Coop Denmark FDB, ISO and Irma.  

June 6th 2001

Nonfood and pet food included in organic rules
Next Christmas will be the first time that Christmas trees can legally be marked with the red organic logo of Denmark. And already now the pets of the family can have their titbits certified organic, bearing the same logo. The Task Force on Animal Feeding under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries has with a new order made it possible to use the popular logo on nonfood products, produced according to the organic rules. At the same time The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has included dog and cat food in the rules for organic food - so that it can be marked by the red logo.

June 1st 2001

The Oe-brand
The Danish organic logo

Danish organic rules may shift to private hands
The responsibility of working out and administering the Danish organic rules may shift from the hands of the state to a private agency in Denmark. Advantages and disadvantages are now being examinated by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The aim with such a shift is mainly to make it possible to have the Danish organic control system accredited by IFOAM to ease the export of Danish organic products to the expanding markets of not least Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and Holland.

May 30th 2001

Ritt Bjerregaard
Ritt Bjerregaard has
lost patience with EU

Pesticides not allowed across the Danish border
The Danish Foodminister Ritt Bjerregaard now puts a ban on import of fruit and vegetables with residues of pesticides not approved in Denmark, since The European Commission will evidently not attain its objective of evaluating the 850 pesticides on market before 2003.

- We need some clear rules. EU is making slow progress, so it is only reasonable that we ourselves secure that imported products don't contain things we do not want or know about, says Ritt Bjerregaard today. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration made a report in 1999 showing that two thirds of the imported fruit and one fifth of the imported vegetables contained residues of pesticides. Ritt Bjerregaards present initiative is received positively by all parts in Denmark.

May 14th 2001

Renate, Ritt og Margareta
From left: The agricultural ministers Renate Künast (Germany),
Ritt Bjerregaard (Denmark) and Margareta Winberg (Sweden)
at the presentation of the Copenhagen Declaration

First step to a European Action Plan
The Copenhagen Declaration has just been made as an important step towards the foundation of an Action Plan for the development of organic food and farming in all of Europe. It was signed Friday 12th of May by representatives of 12 European governments at the European Conference - Organic Food and Farming. The promoter of the declaration, the Danish Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Ritt Bjerregaard, is first and foremost supported by her two strong "sisters" in European agriculture: German minister of agriculture Renate Künast, representing the biggest country in Europe, and Swedish minister of agriculture Margareta Winberg, representing the present chairmanship of EU. Winberg stated that she will put the topic of the Action Plan at the table of the next EU Council meeting in Göteborg in June, and Bjerregaard urged Künast to make Germany the host of a follow up conference in the near future. Ritt Bjerregaard's opening speech is published - as well as others - on the official webpage.

May 7th 2001

Økomælk's "light milk" Letmælk

Fully organic milk ready for Thursday
As mentioned March 20th two Danish dairies have decided to make their organic milk from cows fed with 100 percent organic fodder. Now they  compete to be first to make the change. ØkoMælk started out with the 1st of June, and recently Arla Foods set the same date in stead of - as first decided - 1st of October. Then today ØkoMælk has sent out a press release to inform that already Thursday this week the small pioneer dairy will be ready with the new "100 percent" organic milk. As member of the Danish Organic Trade Association Ø-gruppen, ØkoMælk sponsors milk products at the European Conference, Organic Food and Farming, starting the same day. As proof of Denmark’s leading position within organic foods ØkoMælk will attend as the first dairy to produce milk from cattle fed 100% organically.  

May 3rd 2001

New low fat organic milk boosts Danish market
Since two kinds of new lowfat milk was introduced in February - first by the small all organic Thise Dairy, then by the giant dairy Arla Foods in an homogenized version - it has become the most popular kind of milk on the Danish market. The Minimælk from Arla is now the bestselling milk of the company and represents 29 percent of their sales of organic fresh milk. Thise's Jersey-milk sells so well that the dairy cannot fulfill the demand - and looks forward to getting more producers in autumn. Thise sells more than ever in general, and especially the lowfat products, included cheese, are popular with the customers.

May 1st 2001

Danish patent for testing organic products
The Danish scientist Vagn Gundersen from Risø National Laboratory is trying to take out a patent for a method to prove whether something has been grown organically or not. The method investigates the content of elements in the products. By investigating the content of 60 different elements in onions, Risø scientists found big differences in the amount, depending on how the onions - all of the same sort - were grown. Mr. Gundersen explains in a press release that he built his work hypothesis on the fact that there is a big difference in the microbiological activity in organically and conventionally grown soil - and that it would be strange if it did not have an effect on the products. He believes that it will be possible in a couple of years to prove whether an egg comes from a cage chicken or from organic production.

April 17th 2001

European ministers swarm to conference in Denmark
The program of the big European Conference "Organic Food and Farming" in Copenhagen 10th-11th of May (mentioned February 21st) is now available on a new website. The list of speakers, only, indicate that quite a few European politicians have accepted the invitation of the Danish minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Ritt Bjerregaard, to come. Four agriculture ministers - from Sweden, Austria, Germany and Norway - will speak, as well as the Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. Other speakers are: IFOAM president Gunnar Rundgren,  IFOAM executive director Bernward Geier, and Soil Association president Jonathan Dimbleby.

March 20th 2001

Danish dairies plan for 100 percent organic feeding
The organic Danish dairy ØkoMælk decided a few days ago that all its milk suppliers in two and a half months will feed their cows with only organic fodder. The relatively small dairy would have started full organic feeding already two years ago, had it not been for the pressure from other organic milk producers in Denmark not to do so exclusively. Now the pressure is on the rest of the trade to follow ØkoMælks initative. Arla Foods - the world's largest supplier of organic dairy products - promises now its 630 organic suppliers an extra payment of ten øre - one penny - per kilo milk for the coming year, provided they agree to feed their livestock 100 percent organic fodder from October 2001.

- This is what we want as organic farmers, and this is what consumers expect from us, so there's no reason to wait for EU, says Carsten Sørensen, chairman of the Danish association of organic and biodynamic milk producers. EU allows one tenth of non-organic fodder in organic milk production until August 2005.

February 27th 2001

Danish organic food exhibition in Berlin
The extensive agricultural reforms on the way in Germany are likely to benefit organic production beyond national borders - not least to the neighbouring Denmark. Danish organic food producers will therefore exhibit their goods at the Royal Danish Embassy in Berlin Wednesday 21st of March 2001. The special exhibition will be organized in cooperation with the Danish Organic Trade Association who is now inviting potential German interested parties.

February 22nd 2001

More research about quality of organic food needed
The Research Department of Human Nutrition - of the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Denmark - will tomorrow publish an extensive report about "Organic food and human health". The report's conclusions summarizes that though no scientific examination proofs a difference of health quality between organic and conventional food, there are many things we don't know. Therefore the report recommends new research on different areas.

Among other subjects the report mentions scientific indications that organic food benefits the ability of having healthy babies, that by virtue of less additives organic food probably contributes to a lower degree of food intolerance, and that the very special visual investigation method indicates a real and systematic quality difference between conventional and organic/biodynamic vegetable food. The research team is more rejective about variable contents of C-vitamin, protein and dry matter being uniquely in favour of organic food. A quite interesting point is a comment of the report that large-scale organic food consumers in general eat less animal and more vegetable food - which is definitely more healthy! 

The report can be obtained at The Danish Research Center for Organic Farming by sending an order to - but for the time being only in Danish.

February 21st 2001

Invitation for the EU organic conference in Copenhagen
The first announcement for the European Conference "Organic Food and Farming" is now available on the website of the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. The conference will take place in Copenhagen 10-11 May 2001 - two years after the predecessor in Vienna (see November 27th) - and applies to the organic farming community, businesses involved in processing, trade and certification of organic food products, as well as to environmental and consumer organisations, research institutes, governments and the European Union. It will be in English, whereas simultaneous translation in German and French will be provided during plenary sessions. The ultimative objective of the conference - with the subtitle "Towards Partnership and Action in Europe" - is to launch the process towards an Action Plan for the development of organic food and farming in Europe.

The overall management of the conference lies in the hands of the Danish Directorate for Food, Fisheries and Agro Business which recommends all interested to make a preliminary registration to DIS Congress Service already now, since participation is limited to approximately 350 persons. The final registration forms will be sent out in March with a detailed programme.  

February 8th 2001

Danish companies exhibiting at BIO FACH
Six Danish companies exhibit their organic food products at BIO FACH 15th-18th of February in Nuremberg: Cofradex, Naturmælk, Rømer Natur Produkt, Svane Trading, Urtekram and Økomælk. With 1.457 exhibitors from 56 countries and 17.841 customers, BIO FACH last year emphasized its position as the world's biggest market for organic food products. BIO FACH was established by ÖkoWelt GmbH, they have now sold it to the Nuremberg Trade Fair who for the first time arrange it by themselves. The Danish BIO FACH agent Dan Trading thinks that this transaction may have caused some organisational problems which could be the reason that the number of Danish exhibitors has fallen from ten last year.

February 6th 2001

Stricter Danish rules for cattle breeding
The Danish Organisation for Organic Farming has decided to tighten up the rules for cattle breeding: Meat from cattle that in spite of later conversion to organic breeding has started life in a conventional herd, can from the 15th of March this year no longer be sold with the Danish red logo for organic food products. The decision comes as a consequence of the European BSE-crisis. The ban will include all Danish dairy cattle, since the Danish Dairy Board will follow the same rules. Among 180.000 British BSE-stricken cows some have been organically bred, though all conventionally born. There are no known cases of cows born in an organic herd being stricken with BSE - the mad cow disease. 

January 5th 2001

Fewer new organic farmers in Denmark this year
276 Danish farmers sent an application to the Plant Directorate for authorization and subsidies for organic agriculture for 2001, before the deadline at the turn of the year. That is almost a halfing of last year, when  513 applied for it. Still it's an eight percent's increase compared to the 3471 already authorized farms, and means that additional approximately 4.000 - 6.000 Danish acres will be cultivated without pesticides. The precise size of the new organic farms is not yet informed.

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