- April 23rd, 2012
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by PAMELA G FERNANDEZ
Based on ‘Organic Seed: Implications For Sustainable Agriculture,’ SEARCA Professorial Chair Lecture, July 11 2001, Department of Agronomy, UP Los Banos, College, Laguna, 162 pp. The original manuscript was designed as a sourcebook on organic seed and sustainable agriculture.
Professor, Department of Agronomy-Crop Science Cluster, College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines Los Banos, College, Laguna 4031, The Philippines.
The demand for organic products in the global market reached US$ 20B in 2001. In Europe, there is a very strong formal initiative for organic seed. Organic seed is a requirement in organic agriculture, according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and other international as well as local organic initiatives. An organic movement in the Philippines has launched an organic standard for certification this year.
For both local and international use, the criteria for organic seed currently are, and should be at the minimum, based on the principles set for organic production systems, ranging from organic plant breeding (for variety development) to seed utilization (for crop production and eventually processing and marketing). The paper expands the list of criteria to include pre-plant breeding steps, ie, genetic conservation especially by the informal sector. Biodynamic farming principles provide much of the basis of the organic agriculture criteria, while the use (as well as products) of genetic engineering is banned in varietal development, farm inputs and processing. Tissue culture and Fi hybrid development especially through cytoplasmic male sterility are highly restricted in the production of organic seed.
Organic systems provide overwhelming advantages over non-organic systems. Benefits derived from and constraints related to organic seed and farming are given. Differences between opposite systems (ie, chemical or non-organic vs organic farming given the different forms) are presented in terms of effect on soil health/quality, product yield and quality (storability, losses, nutritional value, animal health, and vital energy). Three techniques (crystallography, chromatography and photon emission) which are well used in biodynamic agriculture, provide graphic comparisons of the products of two opposite systems (organic and chemical
Mechanisms or biochemical/physical bases for better storability of organic products are further explored; the result points to the realm of the relatively new concept of ‘glass’. Water in glass state and other natural substances (such as sugars) that enhance the glass state, can be contributory factors to the longer shelf-life of organic seed, other crop produce and processed food products. The current use of formally produced/bred organic seed in the Philippines is low but if the contributions of indigenous and local seeds/breeds are included, the number improves considerably. The prospect of organic seed partly depends on the success of organic certification in the country, the demand abroad for organic seed and products, and the presence of local companies who will go into this business. A large part of this success, however, will be determined by how successful local initiatives will be in community seedbanking/genetic conservation, and by improved general awareness and willingness of consumers to pay for organic produce.
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