Demand for organic food in Canada has been growing steadily at 25 percent a year. With new federal regulations passed in December and a new Canada Organic logo backing organic claims, the Canadian organics sector can expect this growth to continue. Canadians are becoming more health conscious and concerned about the safety of our food system. Consumers need to be aware of new information about our food, especially as it relates to our and our children's health. That's why scientists, children's health experts and the general public discussed what it means to grow up organic at the one day conference "Growing Up Organic" in Toronto on February 17th , 2007. The conference was hosted by Canadian Organic Growers.
The organic standard bans the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, additives, genetically modified organisms and irradiation. The result is food that has fewer toxic residues and a healthier ecosystem that will sustain food production over the long term. With the growing popularity of organics, people are asking many questions. Some of the more common questions include: Are organic foods really healthier? Should I be buying organics for my children? Are organics worth the higher price? The body of knowledge around organics continues to emerge, as scientists and nutritional experts conduct studies to answer these kinds of questions.
Ann Clark, Associate Professor in Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) - Dr. Clark's research program encompasses pasture and grazing management and organic agriculture, as well as risk assessment of genetically modified crops. A native Californian, she studied at the University of California at Davis and at Iowa State University. Her academic career started at the University of Alberta, but she has been at Guelph since 1983. In a career spanning 26 years, she has authored 15 books or chapters in books, presented papers at more than 50 conferences and symposia, and published 25 refereed journal and 150 technical and extension articles. She currently teaches Crop Ecology, Crops in Land Reclamation, Managed Grasslands, and several courses in Organic Agriculture, and coordinates the new Major in Organic Agriculture.
Peter Macleod, Executive Director of Crop Protection Chemistry - CropLife Canada (Toronto, ON) - CropLife Canada is a trade association representing the developers, manufacturers and distributors of plant science innovations (pest control products and plant biotechnology) for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings. Peter MacLeod has spent his career in the field of scientific research and regulatory affairs. His research activity has mainly focused on the degradation of pesticides in soil and water but he has also managed environmental toxicology studies and food residue studies. Peter is an active participant on the Pesticide Management Advisory Committee to the Federal Minister of Health and has served on many panels on pesticides and risk management. Born in Yarmouth , Nova Scotia his fondness for Agriculture and Science led him to attend the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He graduated in 1987 with a B.Sc. (Agr.) Hon., Dalhousie University.
Ellen Desjardins, Public Health Nutritionist - Region of Waterloo Public Health (Waterloo, ON) - Ellen has worked in various programs throughout the province and at the federal level for the past 20 years. Ellen has co-authored numerous articles in the area of food security. She has also chaired work-groups and prepared position papers for the Ontario Public Health Association on food systems, public health concerns about food biotechnology, and mercury in fish. In 2005, Ellen was a founding member of the new national organization Food Secure Canada.
Wayne Roberts, Coordinator, Toronto Food Policy Council (Toronto, ON) - Wayne moderated the session of the conference titled Is Organic Worth the Price?. The Toronto Food Policy Council partners with business and community groups to develop policies and programs promoting food security. Our aim is a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health.