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News | 25 Apr 2013
At a gathering of Organic Producers, Organic Certification Bodies and lobby groups from all over the EU (see picture) held in Dublin this week by the IFOAM EU Group (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) in partnership with Organic Trust Ltd and IOFGA, Gavin Lynch PR & Development Officer of Organic Trust raised a question over the Irish State’s apparent reluctance to include the Irish Organic Sector when it comes to Public Procurement tenders and contracts.
Gavin Lynch stated that Ireland lagged far behind our European counterparts when it comes to organic meals being provided in State-run institutions such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes.
“There is huge potential in this area to help achieve the Government’s stated aim to increase the percentage of land being farmed organically in Ireland through the public procurement system. As organic farming tends to be more labour intensive this would create badly needed jobs in rural Ireland, provide better quality food for the young, the old and the sick and would go a long way towards protecting our rural environment through the low input practices of organic farming” he said.
Gavin continued “Countries such as Denmark, Germany and Sweden have already seen the light in this area. State canteens in Denmark aim to have 80% of the food offered there as organic by 2015”. “These countries have realised that short term savings in the food you eat results in long term illnesses which cost the state exponentially more resources to treat, than it would have cost to encourage healthy eating practices amongst citizens in the first place”.
“The State simply cannot continue to provide healthy eating advice on the one hand whilst serving frozen chips and sausage rolls on the other - apart from being contradictory. the State should be setting an example when it comes to wholesome food choices”.
“The requirements of the new regulations on Green Public Procurement offer a golden opportunity to the Irish organic food sector, the unemployed and the vulnerable in our society. The Organic Trust insist that the Government do not attempt to green-wash this opportunity by attempting to replace other alternatives to organic in fulfilling their commitments under this legislation.
“Organic ticks all the boxes when it comes to Green Public Procurement. We already know organic farming is good for you and good for nature, it could be very good for the Irish economy if this opportunity is handled correctly by those in power”.
Mr Frank Macken, Senior Technical Inspector with the Organic Unit of Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine stated that “the Government is very positively disposed towards Green Public Procurement which includes organic food as it had been demonstrated in other jurisdictions that this had resulted in a positive increase in organically certified land areas in the European organic sector”.
The IFOAM EU Group represents more than 160 member organizations in the EU-27, the EU accession countries and EFTA. Member organizations include consumer, farmer and processor associations; research, education and advisory organizations.