International congress will focus on organic foods - Organic Trade Association
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International congress will focus on organic foods









News Release    Contact: Holly Givens
For Immediate Release    Phone: 413-774-7511, Ext. 18


International congress will focus on organic foods

Greenfield, Mass. (Jan. 29, 2004)-An international congress focusing on the challenges and initiatives taken to address food safety quality and other issues of importance to organic food producers will be held March 29-31 at Michigan State University.


Entitled the "First World Congress on Organic Food: Meeting the Challenges of Safety and Quality for Fruits, Vegetables and Grains," the conference will take place at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Co-sponsors of the event are the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center at Michigan State University, International Association for Food Protection, the Organic Trade Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, with participation of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.


"This promises to be an exciting opportunity for discussions and technical presentations on issues of vital importance to the organic food industry. It will provide a dialog and sharing of knowledge by an international gathering of experts," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).


Keynote speaker will be Kathleen Merrigan, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program and the Center for Agriculture, Food and Environment at Tufts University. Merrigan served as administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service when USDA developed the final rule implementing national organic standards. DiMatteo is also among the speakers on the program.


Sessions during the three-day congress will include the production and safety of organic food, risks of organic versus conventional foods, pesticide issues, microbiological issues, regulating food safety and quality, and research, policy and education related to these topics. Speakers will include industry spokespeople, as well as university researchers and other technical experts. The purpose of the congress is to explore industry and scientific information and knowledge to assess the need for developing further handling and processing methods in organic production.


"It is important for industry, and the scientific and research community to assess, evaluate and improve current methods," said DiMatteo. Such questions as "where are we, what do we know, and what can be improved" will be explored.


Industry, state, research, education and extension service personnel interested or involved in the organic sector are encouraged to attend the congress. Further information about the congress and how to register are provided at Or, contact Kirsten Khire at Michigan State University via


To learn more about the Organic Trade Association, go to


January 29, 2004

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