The British Are Coming!

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Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association

The Bristol, England-based Soil Association, a globally recognized expert on organic and sustainable food and farming, brought some heavy hitters to the United States to promote its new international Food For Life campaign, launched last Thursday.

Sting and wife Trudie Styler kicked off a fundraising event in New York, which included a prerecorded video message from organic-lifestyle supporter Prince Charles (the association’s Royal Patron), who was visiting the United States.

“It has always seemed obvious to me that agriculture is the single biggest influence on the environment,” said The Prince of Wales. “I believe it is a matter of urgency to create a network of individuals and organizations across the world who are committed to a better future for food and farming -- one that is based on working in far greater harmony with nature and on producing local food for local markets based on small and family farms, moving away from the intensive, industrialized approach to agriculture. We are only in the foothills of bringing about the sort of far-reaching changes in agricultural systems and practices that we need if we are to avert serious problems in the future.”

The new campaign includes:

  • A United Nations conference on sustainable food and farming, to be held next September
  • Efforts to change international trade law so that food security takes priority over free trade
  • Working with top chefs like Alice Waters of Berkeley, California’s Chez Panisse to improve the diet and health of U.S. schoolchildren, following the same approach used in the United Kingdom. (The government has substituted local organic produce for junk food.)
  • Developing public awareness of secure, sustainable food and farming in the United States by working with a nationwide coalition of farmers and consumers

Soil Association Director Patrick Holden issued the following statement:

“The visit of our visionary patron, The Prince of Wales, to the U.S., allied with the celebrity support of Sting and Trudie Styler, provides the Soil Association with a unique opportunity to get our messages across more widely to U.S. audiences and launch our international campaign for sustainable agriculture. As the Prince of Wales so rightly says, agriculture is the biggest influence on our environment, both in developed countries like the U.S. and UK and in the developing world from Africa to Asia. The well-documented negative impacts of industrial agriculture on our vital life-support systems of climate, soils and water underscore the urgent need to get global food production onto a sustainable footing.

“We have a strong heritage of campaigning alongside like-minded U.S. individuals and organizations,” he noted, “but now we want to build on that to create a global critical mass. The U.S., as the most powerful trading nation, the home to the U.N. HQ and other international institutions, is a key fulcrum for achieving positive change. With a burgeoning organic sector facing many of the same pressures we encounter in the UK, there is obvious synergy for common cause.”

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