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Evidence of Organic farming benefits demands greater support for Organics

11 October, 2004


Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the biggest ever review of research comparing organic to conventional farming highlights the positive contribution of organic farming to biodiversity.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Organic farming increases biodiversity at every level of the food chain - all the way from lowly bacteria to mammals. This is the conclusion of the largest review ever done of studies from around the world comparing organic and conventional agriculture. Organic farming aids biodiversity by using fewer pesticides and inorganic fertilisers, and by adopting wildlife-friendly management of habitats where there are no crops, including strategies such as not weeding close to hedges, and by mixing arable and livestock farming.

"Mixed farming particularly benefits some bird species. Lapwings, for example, nest on spring-sown crops, but raise their chicks on pasture. Intensive agriculture has been blamed for the 80% decline in lapwing numbers in England and Wales since the 1960s.

"It is vital that we explore all avenues in seeking to develop new strategies to support a viable and sustainable future for rural communities and for the farming industry.

"Sinn Féin believe that building on the clean green image of Irish produce should be a element in any strategy to build exports and support higher returns. Central to this is the demand that Ireland remain GM free. However, there are also potentially very significant progress that can be made in developing niche markets such as organic produce that will also bring added benefits to our rural environment that would appear to be entirely compatible with the countryside management ethos that is central to the CAP reform proposals." ENDS

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