For a taste of clean food - Pt 1 - JOAM leading the way in Jamaica
WE ALL need food to survive, but it is widely felt that there are some types of food that kill. Perhaps over time. And those are the ones that one school of thought believes were nourished by synthetic fertilisers and those said to be genetically modified.
A genetically modified organism (GMO), also known as a transgenic organism, is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods (GMF) and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food.
The debate over the dangers of synthetically fertilised food and GMFs is worldwide, from governmental to nongovernmental discourses. As a result of the decades-old debate, cultivated food has been divided into two major categories, organic or clean food in one category, and food nurtured by man-made chemical in the other.
And while the campaign against GMFs is gaining international momentum, the organic food movement, too, has been gaining worldwide traction for years, especially with the rise in cancer deaths, which are said to be caused by ingesting inorganic food over time.
The discussions and the debates have not been lost on the ears and palates of health-conscious Jamaicans. And that's why the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM) was incorporated under the Companies Act on June 7, 2001. It was registered as a charitable organisation on July 28, last year.
"JOAM was formed in response to health and environmental concerns associated with agriculture based on synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. The use of synthetic pesticides is linked to illnesses and death of birds, fish and other organisms," JOAM said, in response to questions posed by Rural Xpress.
"The founding directors of JOAM wanted a safer, more environmentally friendly alternative. JOAM was formed to develop the local organic sector to increase availability of organic produce in Jamaica."
JOAM's mission is to facilitate the development of a sustainable and economically viable organic agriculture sector in Jamaica while maintaining organic integrity, promoting health, environmental consciousness and social responsibility.
Its main objectives are to lobby for and assist in the development of an effective local organic agriculture industry, and to assist local producers who are interested in the conversion to and certification in organic agriculture
JOAM said its activities have been consistent with its objectives. It "has been involved in promoting organic farming and better health and nutrition through consumption of produce grown by organic farming techniques", and in "developing organic standard".
Since its formation, JOAM has been a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) which is the umbrella organisation for the international organic movement. The non-profit, non-governmental organisation receives funding from various agencies, which has been critical in developing the sector.