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A Historic Sustainability Decision Allows Industry To Snatch Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, June 16, 2009

Our extensive efforts and those of many others, all linked to sustainability, have done some good. We received a letter from the most prominent attorney monitoring these issues that, considering where we started, reports a minor miracle:

As you may have heard, the Leonardo-SCS draft standard has been voted on — at the Second Meeting of the Standards Committee on May 27-28 — to be “science-based” and “performance-oriented” and allow for the use of “any” technology that increases the sustainability of agriculture.

They will also be taking a second look at the composition of the Committee for balance issues.

The report of the meeting can be found here.

Since we excluded livestock and processors from the scope of this “crop production” standard despite opposition from SCS, and the composition of the Standards Committee is now under review at the leadership committee, I would suggest that there was not, as stated in the report, any consensus on a “clear intention of expanding the focus to ultimately incorporate post-farm gate considerations”. No such “intent” was evident from our corner of the Committee room, where token seed, meat, and farmer members were seated.

But I also find the science-based, performance-oriented outcome lining up with Keystone and The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops; it is harmony and/or integration with all these parallel processes which is what leaders at United Fresh and Bayer Crop Science discussed in your last post on this topic, United Fresh/Bayer Crop Science Launch Global Sustainability Center.

This technology-neutral, science-based, performance-oriented basis for going forward, SCS-001 should incorporate and respect good work going on elsewhere.

I sometimes think that I must be dreaming — and a high five via email for any person who helped make this historic decision happen, including everyone’s favorite food-blogger, the Perishable Pundit.

— Thomas Parker Redick
Global Environmental Ethics Counsel
Clayton, Missouri

Since the initial proposal basically ruled that non-organic farming cannot be sustainable — thus instantly disqualifying from the standard 95% plus of the industry — this is substantial progress.

It also speaks to a broader sustainability including how we sustain civil discourse. SCS didn’t really want a dialog; it wanted to impose its vision on a hostile industry. The defeat of the SCS vision of sustainability is a reminder to all who wish to create change: Men are not meat; the more you pound them, the tougher they get.

Many thanks to Thomas Parker Redick for his diligence and to all those who made a righteous cause their own.

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