14 January 2000

With expansion come cowboys…

RAPID growth in the organic food sector might bring with it unscrupulous traders, warned Peter Seggar, an organic farmer and a trader himself.

Much international trade today in other sectors was more about global tax avoidance, exploitation of people and denial of basic human rights, he said. "And as organic trade grows there is no reason to suppose it will eventually be any different."

In its best form international trade benefited all. Traders should help their producers and the movement to connect with consumers, he said.

"We organic traders cannot succeed unless we help farmers regain their rightful place as leaders of society. We must finance research and contribute to costs of local, national and international certifying authorities to avoid the UK situation where producers switch sector bodies to save a few £ on annual fees."

SA chairman, Helen Browning, added that organic farmers must work together to promote their message and market their produce, rather than sell it through middlemen.

"We must allow our customers to reward us but they cant do that unless they know who we are," she said.