First organic bioregion created in Europe

Yubljana, SLOVENIA, June 12, 2003 -- CropChoice news: The presidents of organic farmers associations from Slovenia: Union of Slovenian Organic Farmers` Associations (USOFA), Austria: Bio-Ernte Austria from Carinthia and Styria, Italy: APROBIO from Friuli-Venezia Giulia and AVEPROBI from Veneto signed a declaration to create a bioregion dedicated to the growing of organic food. The bioregion should comprise the whole of Slovenia, the Austrian provinces of Carinthia and Styria and the Italian provinces of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto.

Agriculture Ministers from Slovenia, Carinthia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia were present at the ceremony and expressed their support to this initiative.

"Organic farming in Austria is already very important agricultural practice and its potential to grow is big. We want to preserve and extend this potential also to future EU Member States and to ensure farmers in the newly established bioregion to be able to farm in an environmentally and ethically acceptable manner and to provide consumers healthy, locally and sustainably produced food." said Stefan Merkac from Bio-Ernte Austria.

Anamarija Slabe from USOFA added "In Slovenia on average, every day we get new organic farm registered. In 1998 there were 41 organic farms in the country in the year 2002 total number was 1100 and they represented 1,3 % of total agricultural farmland in the country in 2002. Our goal is to have 30 % organic agricultural farmland in 10 years time."

For further information: Marjana Dermelj: + 386 1 439 71 00, Coalition of NGOs for GM free

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