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Je moet geen tomaten willen telen in Nederland

Een columnist mag zaken verdraaien en dat doe ik met bovenstaande uitspraak ook. De echte uitspraak was “You shouldn’t want to grow tomatoes in Denmark” en werd gedaan tijdens overleg over EU-regelgeving door een ambtenaar die nauw betrokken is bij de herziening van biologische regelgeving. Agri Commissaris Ciolos wil deze herziening nog voor zijn vertrek (of herverkiezing?) geregeld hebben. Zoals het er naar uit ziet wil hij een stevige herziening.

 

Strikte regels, heldere regels, uniforme regels en geen uitzonderingen meer. Ik begrijp de uitspraak van de biologische belangenbehartigers dat zij Europese Commissie volledig verantwoordelijk houden wanneer de bio-sector in zou klappen bij een te grondige herziening.

 

Hoe grondig Ciolos’ algemene herziening zou kunnen uitwerken in specifieke termen van onze sector: De huidige opkweekmethoden onmogelijk en gestookt glas wordt zeer lastig. Grondstomen? Intensieve bemesting? Uitgesloten! Je zou immers geen tomaten moeten willen telen waar het natuurlijk niet natuurlijk wel kan. 

 

De Europese Raad steunt hervormingen maar wil wel flexibiliteit voor landen waar dat voor de ontwikkeling van bio nodig is. Organic lijkt daarmee een Groot Brussels Onderwerp te worden: Gedetailleerd achtergrond gesoebat over teeltmethoden is hooguit het verschuiven van dekstoelen op de Titanic. Europees “organic” krijgt een ‘reset, reboot”.  Kaboem! En wanneer de kleine agri-toonzetter op scherp gesteld wordt trekt dat de aandacht van de grote rest gangbare producenten.

 

De bio-sector heeft gelijk met haar waarschuwing tegen een grondige herziening. Bio groeit mede door uitzonderingen op de regels. Uitzonderingen waarvan publiek en politiek geen weet heeft en veelal noodzakelijk waren. Herziening kan het best in stapjes, in het volle zonlicht en samen met geinformeerde consumenten en moedige politici. 

 

Maar dit voorjaar gaat het in Brussel over de grote lijnen. Ouderwetse, nationale Realpolitik. Waar gaan de Noord-Europese bio-euro’s voortaan naar toe? Welke regio’s worden de nieuwe Tuinen van Europa? Louise Fresco leerde me in haar lezenswaardige boek “Hamburgers in het paradijs” dat “paradijs” ommuurde tuin betekent. Nu, die muren rond de Bio Tuinen van Europa worden in Brussel opgetrokken. De tomaten-uitspraak-ambtenaar benadrukte dat vooral de politiek moet bepalen wat precies “biologisch is. Niet de Europese Commissie zelf, die legt slechts een bal op een stip.

 

Het toekomstige succes van biologisch valt of staat dus bij de doorvoelde betrokkenheid van ook Nederlandse politici. Beste politicus of politica: Maak van bio, eko of organic uw Europese verkiezingsonderwerp! En doe het nu, want de Eurocommissaris heeft haast. 

 

(Tekst van een column door PuraNatura directeur Peter Jens in het AGF keten magazine Chain 14 Januari 2014)

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Organic and Regular bell pepper grower 4Evergreen awarded for outstanding entrepreneurship

09-01-2014

The Grootscholte Family, renowned bell-pepper growers in the Netherlands and Spain have been awarded the Dutch Tuinbouwondernemersprijs 2014 for their outstanding business development in both regular and organic cultivation.

As PuraNatura we are as proud as a cat with seven tails: 4Evergreen/Grootscholte is a grower that uses the PuraNatura growing concept: The safest and the environmentally friendliest organic method, USDA NOP Organic certified, available only to well-informed and demanding North-American households.

 

From the jury report:

 

Strong collaborators and partners

Grower 4Evergreen, a company owned by the Grootscholte Family, is an innovative bell-pepper grower. Through its vision on sustainability, market focus and sound financial returns the  company grew to over 60 hectares of ultramodern covered area in Steenbergen, Westland, St. Annaland en Terneuzen all in the Netherlands and with British partners- in Almeria, Spain.

By partnering on all elements of good entrepreneurship 4Evergreen became a good example for the bell-pepper industry.

 

Growing organic for PuraNatura

Innovation is in the genes of the family and the company. 4Evergreen was one of the first to use clever lighting systems to provide consumers bell-peppers during the winter. The company itself sorts and packages the green, red, organ and yellow bell-peppers. This enables them to supply retailers with made-to-measure product shipments.

 

4Evergreen is one of the protagonists that grow on a large scale organic produce. They do such within and through the PuraNatura Foundation together with tomato-growers for the growing North American markets.

4Evergreen sees a great future of this type of sustainably intensified cultivation method and recently increased its area.

 

Contributing to the positive image of its sector

4Evergreen sees many opportunities for its social and sustainable entrepreneurship. Its greenhouses are heated with waste warmth from electricity producers. The carbon dioxide from those processes is being re-used as well. The company participates in KasEnergy, a company that produces electricity for the Dutch electricity network. Another example is its collaboration with Hogeschool InHolland to test on micronutrients for food, cosmetics and pharma (pharming).

4Evergreen contributes to the strong and positive image of the greenhouse industry with these collaborations with educational and scientific institutions. Students get the opportunity to gain study points for their experiences with the 4Evergreen projects.

 

Developing knowledge, sharing with colleagues to collectively bring protected bell-pepper (and other vegetable-) cultivation on a higher level; its vision tp spread business risks and realise innovation are elements the jury applauds in the entrepreneurial skills of the Grootscholte family. The company is a true model for the innovative strength of the entire Dutch greenhouse industry.


Grower 4Evergreen is a company that we collectively are very proud of!

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PuraNatura promotes convergence of organic regulations

05-10-2013 

The Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production (EGTOP) issued its suggestions on new regulations for protected cropping (greenhouses). Egtop does not refer to regulations elsewhere in the world. PuraNatura Foundation believes that European Organic legislation should not be developed in "splendid isolation". The global consumer market for organic products can be divided into 45% European Union, 45% North America. The regulations in this areas are already declared being "equivalent" and current differences may be used to improve both systems collectively. Such convergence also allows producers outside the mentioned areas to enter the system more easily.

Read more at: 

http://www.slideshare.net/peterjens/puranatura-foundation-opinion-on-egtop-greenhouse-final-report

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20-11-2011 PuraNatura Foundation receives European co-financing grant

The Dutch Provinces Noord- and Zuid Holland, Utrecht, and Flevoland, and the cities of Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague have allocated funds from the European Regional Development Fund towards PuraNatura Foundation. 

Against a private investment of 1.200.000 euro ERDF will invest over 800.000 euro until year's end of 2013. PuraNatura Foundation will not just use the funds for the development of growing methods, but also to demonstrate the societal relevance of its type of "organic". Jobs will be created, economic activity improved with the lowest environmental impact. Besides all this, for our clients we will continue to produce tasty fruit and vegetables of the highest quality against affordable prices. 

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PuraNatura announces the launch of its license system in North America

18-10-2013 

At the PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans PuraNatura Foundation introduces its  cultivation system to American, Canadian and Mexican growers and retailers. PuraNatura 100% USDA NOP Organic bell peppers currently are produced in the Netherlands and exported to the United States. Now -for tomatoes- PuraNatura Foundation wishes to extend its production base in the United States. It expects commercial cultivation of its organic tomatoes in North America in 2015. 

Read more at: http://www.freshplaza.com/article/113687/Twelve-North-American-growers-to-use-the-PuraNatura-cultivation-method

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PuraNatura promotes convergence of organic regulations

05-10-2013 

The Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production (EGTOP) issued its suggestions on new regulations for protected cropping (greenhouses). Egtop does not refer to regulations elsewhere in the world. PuraNatura Foundation believes that European Organic legislation should not be developed in "splendid isolation". The global consumer market for organic products can be divided into 45% European Union, 45% North America. The regulations in this areas are already declared being "equivalent" and current differences may be used to improve both systems collectively. Such convergence also allows producers outside the mentioned areas to enter the system more easily.

Read more at: 

http://www.slideshare.net/peterjens/puranatura-foundation-opinion-on-egtop-greenhouse-final-report

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PuraNatura finalizes new international Foundation logo

22-09-2013

Today PuraNatura unveiled its logo in nine languages. The languages cover all areas where PuraNatura Foundation currently operates, or expects to operate. Its main purpose is to accelerate sustainable intensification of properly scaled protected cropping in metropolitan areas around the world to ensure accessibility of communities to high quality organic vegetables. The logo was produced by designer Rick Klaaijsen of Creatieve Zaken in Rotterdam.

See logo at:

 

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PuraNatura calls for the inclusive organic

22-01-2013

During a presentation by PuraNatura in the EuroParliament its introduced its rallying cry "Make the inclusive good into the exclusive better". Current organic legislation makes it hard to impossible for growers in European metropolitan areas to join the organic sector. This drives up costs and increases costs, excluding both consumers and producers. It limits the growth into true relevance of the organic market. 

Read more at: http://www.slideshare.net/peterjens/ep-22-jan-2013def-ad 


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USDA statement on Organic Hydroponics offers glimpse of a common future

6-5-2014 USDA issued a statement on the status of organic “hydroponic production” in regulatory development. It reads: “Currently organic hydroponic production is allowed within USDA NOP as long as the producer can demonstrate compliance with the USDA organic regulations. <…> The National Organic Advisory Board (NOSB) completed their final recommendations on crop production in containers and enclosures (e.g. greenhouses) greenhouses in 2010. The NOSB’s 2010 recommendation included a provision for not allowing organic hydroponic production. <…> In the future, the NOP may provide additional guidance regarding organic hydroponic production and how the regulations apply to such methods”.

 

The European Commission proposes in 2014/180: “As organic plant production is based on nourishing the plants primarily through the soil ecosystem, hydroponic should not be allowed. In addition, organic plant production should involve the use of production techniques that prevent or minimise any contribution to the contamination of the environment.”

 

Based on the above PuraNatura Foundation predicts the end of confusion about growing media for greenhouse cultivation with a convergence into the following intertwined EU/NOP regulations:

 

= Prohibition of hydroponic production, based on clear and actionable definitions.

= Acceptance of container cultivation when using growing media considered to be soil.

 

Our belief in such a common future was triggered as the Commissions’ wish that “organic plant production should … use production techniques that prevent … the contamination of the environment” can not be met while maintaining the current fertilizer loads of commercially grown organic greenhouse veggies.

 

Either one accepts lower yields (and higher prices) or one accepts recirculation techniques and soil protection. Lower yields and higher prices cannot be the future of organic greenhouse production.

 

We hope that in the final regulation the EC inserts additional definitions such as suggested by NOSB:

 

Greenhouse- Permanent enclosed structure that allows for an actively controlled environment used to grow organic crops, annual seedlings or planting stock used in organic production.

Containers- Any vessel and associated equipment used to house growing media and the complete root structure of terrestrial plants and to prevent the roots from contacting the soil or surface beneath the vessel, such as, but not limited to, pots, troughs, plastic bags,

floor mats. etc.

Growing media- Material which contains sufficient organic matter capable of supporting the plant root system and a natural and diverse soil ecology.

 

Of course this all can be wishful thinking, but surely the NOSB deliberations can help us all find a way out of a kaleidoscopic regulatory confusion when in practice out-of-soil cultivation is already certified in France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Slovenia to produce quality organic vegetables. And in France (again), Great Britain, the Netherlands and Austria to produce organic herbs and aromatic plants. Even hydroponic cultivated vegetables coming from the US or Canada are nowadays graced with the EU Organic Leaf.

 

“In practice, the organic farmer is not just a tiller of the soil, but a steward of the soil ecology on the farm”.

 

Read more on USDA statement: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOPOrganicHydroponicCropProduction

Read more on NOSB recommendations: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5084677

 

 

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EC proposal for new Organic Regulation: Hysteria or History

5-5-2014 Since the European Commission launched its proposal

(http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/policy-development/index_en.htm)

 

for new organic regulations many stakeholders stepped on their brakes. Quotes such as “organic should grow organic” and “this is a too radical change” or “this will lead to a period of increased insecurity”.

 

PuraNatura Foundation has a different take on this: First of all, we see the EC’s proposal as ending a period of insecurity, of arbitrary rules and skewed playing fields with suspect referees. Secondly the proposal is not radical at all. The current wide room for interpretation and enforcement of existing regulations was radically wrong.

 

Thirdly, as European citizens, we believe that EU regulation should adhere to COM (2010) 543 on “Smart Regulation in the European Union”. Smart regulations are necessary and effective, coherent, feasible and maintainable; simple, clear and accessible; legitimate; permanently relevant and with the necessary support and following consultations.

 

While we believe that the EC’s proposal has all those elements there is still some work to do. But without doubt  the proposal is a huge step towards Smart Regulation. Smart regulation is also effective and carefully considered. It contributes to social prosperity and welfare and achieves the objectives that it sets out to achieve at the lowest possible social cost and minimises undesired side effects. Again we believe that with the recent proposal all this will be achieved.

 

The Italian Presidency intends to have the proposal scrutinized article by article, line by line. That is of course good: The devil can be in he details. And from the reactions of the current organic sector there is indeed a devil in the details, and if not in the details, the devil is lurking in the shadows of the new regulations.

 

But apart from these details, we all ought to understand the historic importance of novel rules: By the time the new legislation comes into force it will be a quarter of a century ago that the first public regulation came into force. The first public regulation was still very much a private one: “by the sector, for the sector and of the sector”. Many organic actors still behave as if novel regulations should benefit the current sector. But what about benefitting he future organic practitioners?

 

We see the novel public regulation as “by the people, for the people, of the people”. At last. Finally. Phewww!

 

Now the exclusive good can truly become the inclusive better.

 

For balanced background info please see the Commissions’ FAQ: 

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-215_en.htm

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Von Thuenen Institute reports on arbitrary application of EU organic production rules

9-2-2014 The renowned von Thünen Institute of Farm Economics has evaluated the EU legislation on organic farming. In Chapter 7 it reports on the adequacy of current production rules. Greenhouse production, which interests us as promotors of nutrient-dense organic vegetables most- is mentioned on several occasions:

 

Page 82: “In extreme cases, this can lead to very intensive rotations, such as soya/soya/wheat as seen in Southern France; or monocultures of vegetables, such as tomatoes as a main crop every year in greenhouse production.”

 

Page 82:  “Authorisation of crop cultivation in substrate (e.g. peat, compost, various peat alternatives and their mixtures): In certain countries crop production in substrate (e.g. in raised/demarcated beds) without direct connection to the soil is permitted (Denmark (as long as the substrates are comparable to organic soil and premixed substrate contain only peat, clay, stone meal, lime, organic soil or organic produced manure), Sweden (minimum volumes of substrates per plant), Italy and Spain)… “

 

Page 118: “Greenhouse production: (substrate and CO2):

The Regulation does not provide any specific requirements or relevant production rules regarding greenhouse crops. As a result, there are different applications in the EU, mostly for a) the cultivation in a substrate, which is authorised in some Member States for the cultivation of all plants (Denmark, Italy, Poland, Slovenia), and in other Member States limited to plants grown and sold in pots, mostly for ornamental plants, herbs and aromatic plants (Austria, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom); and b) for fertilisation practices (such as fertigation (see Section 7.3.3.1) or the use of CO2 enrichment to enhance photosynthesis 39). A definitive judgement on this issue is not possible due to lack of data…”

Page 123: “However, the production rules do not fully limit the intensification of some production sectors, such as housing conditions for poultry (despite the existence of detailed rules) or greenhouse production (with no common implementing rules at EU level). Also, some  objectives stated in the Regulation addressing the whole sector (e.g. responsible use of natural resources) and some terms (e.g. ‘sustainable development’, ‘respect for natures systems and cycles’, ‘sustainable use’, ‘region’ or ‘factory farming‘ in relation to input use), which could have a potential impact on intensification, are not further defined.”

 

PuraNatura greenhouse growers, producing in natural growing media according to USDA Organic regulations, wonder what could be meant by “the production rules do not fully limit the intensification of some production sectors …such as greenhouse production”. Why should some production sectors not be sustainably intensified and good use is made of resources. Greenhouse cropping (under cover) is always -and by definition- in any way shape of form an intensification of cultivation. Mother Nature is not allowed unlimited access. We believe that the type of intensification the rapporteurs seem to be worried about ought to be debated, specified, politicised and properly regulated. Wherever intensification is sustainable, resource-efficient, environmentally sound AND provides consumers with intensely nutrient-dense vegetables such intensification should be pursued in public regulations, not obstructed by such regulations. It should even be welcomed now that global agriculture is finally moving into sensible and sound sustainable intensification. Read all at the following links:

 

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/evaluation/market-and-income-reports/2013/organic-farming/chap7_en.pdf

 

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/evaluation/market-and-income-reports/organic-farming-2013_en.htm

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Observatie bij publicatie zienswijze PuraNatura inzake ministerieel onderzoek

7-2-2014 PuraNatura telers deelden voor een door het Ministerie van Economische Zaken uitgevaardigd onderzoek gegevens inzake hun gecertificeerde USDA Organic paprika teelt en experimentele tomaten teelt met onderzoekers van WUR te Bleiswijk. Onze geheimhoudingsplicht laat niet toe mededelingen te doen over de inhoud van de oorspronkelijke onderzoeksrapportage of de totstandkoming van de uiteindelijke via http://edepot.wur.nl/283584 gepubliceerde rapportage. Wel stelden we vast dat in de daarin opgenomen zienswijze van Stichting PuraNatura op het onderzoek de volgende hier doorgehaalde zinsdelen niet te zien zijn.

 

 “De uitkomst van uw onderzoek is bemoedigend. Gangbare substraatteelt is duurzamer dan telen in de grond. We konden een lichte glimlach niet onderdrukken bij het lezen van uw conclusie: Winst voor gangbaar substraat en een (kennelijk) gelijkspel tussen telen-in-de-grond en telen-in-natuurlijk-substraat.”

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PuraNatura Foundation participated First Global Forum Agricultural Innovation Abu Dhabi

5-2-2014 And what a “first” it was. Our impression, shared by many participants, was that something special has happened during those three days. No North-South or West-East one-way traffic with “you have a problem, we have a solution” but more like “if you have a challenge, we all have a challenge, let’s work on this together. And truth be told, we all have serious food- and agricultural issues to solve. North and South, East and West.

 

It was truly heartening to experience that solutions were discussed liberally in absence of any currently grandstanding doctrines and ideologies about who has to feed the world, when and how.  “Just do it and see what happens” was the undercurrent of most dialogues.

 

The format of the forum was successful. 150 intense presentations led to a myriad of as intense conversations in the exhibition stands; the reception at the (Dutch-) embassy, the gala-diner and during the technical tours on the third day.

 

We hope for GFIA2015 that the spirit of shared challenges, shared solutions towards a socially inclusive future will remain. As well as the absence of ideology. We applaud that some governments, investment funds and larger companies rise to the occasion and invest a little and enable a couple of their best and brightest start-ups and game-changers to present next year at GFIA2015.

 

To convey the spirit of the forum check out Apple’s 1997 “Here’s to the crazy ones, rebels, troublemakers, the ones who see things differently!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjgtLSHhTPg

 

We wish to extend our thanks to the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan for this daring enterprise, Turret Media for the excellent execution of the forum and special thanks to the Khalifa Fund that allowed PuraNatura Foundation to have an exhibition stand. Follow GFIA at http://www.innovationsinagriculture.com/

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European Commission contemplates convergence of organic regulations

15-01-2014

Action Plan floats multi-lateral organic trade accord: The EU’s executive floats the idea of a multi-lateral trade accord between the leading organic markets in the new Action Plan accompanying the draft proposals. Once convergence of regulatory procedures & production standards has been achieved between the EU & the main organic producer countries, this could “generate synergies in the supervision & control system” & facilitate an export-orientated organic production, the 11-page draft outlines.

 

Source AgraFacts

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Natural and organic growing media producer Van der Knaap wins Dutch Ambassadors Award

15-01-2014 The jury deemed Van der Knaap Groep from Kwintsheul, the Netherlands, „an innovative enterprise that with great perseverance developed a new market for coir (cocos) products”. The award is an initiative from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dutch ambassadors,SME Netherlands and Rabobank and was -ceremoniously- handed over by Dutch Minister Foreign Trade and Development Mrs. Lilianne Ploumen.

 

Farmers working for Van der Knaap Group in Sri Lanka produce not just raw materials but end products. This increased their income and their wages have become higher than average. Van der Knaap Group is an active social partner in the Sri Lankan communities.

 At PuraNatura Foundation we are proud to be using Van der Knaap growing media for our 100% USDA Organic cultivation and are impressed by their knowledge based development approach.

 

We thought it to be interesting that two organisations (Grower 4Evergreen and Van der Knaap Group) that featured in a Brussels hearing on European Organic Greenhouse regulation last year won significant Dutch Awards last week.

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PuraNatura EU
@mauricewubben He, dat vinden wij al ruim tien jaar!!! Leuk... https://t.co/UbUzyvLsZX
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RT @EU_Eurostat: Austria, Sweden and Estonia on top for organic farming. https://t.co/5kuORm3q5M https://t.co/NiN6JNFcuc
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Zuivering afvalwater glastuinbouw vanaf 1 januari 2018 verplicht https://t.co/7wG13rgezx
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#NOSB made the EXclusive good into the INclusive better! Will demand for @PuraNatura_US soilbased veg outgrow #soilbound and #hydroponics?
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In het AgriHolland Nieuws: 'Spaanse uitbreiding desastreus voor bio-kasgroentenmarkt' https://t.co/n2G8KVXKSV (Ahum, we told you so!!!)
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we have (in the Netherlands Royal Dutch Shell, Royal Wessanen, Royal Ahold, Royal Boskalis & now Holland will have… https://t.co/6SFq5y7nVf
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@dorineruter @marjanminnesma ehm... wat is de investering in een wajongere?