February 2007 No. 5

Coordinators invitation

Improving sustainability
in organic and low input food production systems

3rd scientific QLIF
congress 2007

Progress overview

Congress update on the seven QLIF subprojects

Between tradition and globalisation

9th German Scientific Conference on Organic Agriculture

QLIF Annual Meeting and General Assembly

Programme outline

Self-sufficiency in organic farming

Invitation to an open workshop

Workshop on
Organic Eprints

Introduction to the use and perspectives of the Organic Eprints archive

Measuring food quality: concepts, methods and challenges

Report from the 3rd QLIF training and exchange workshop 12-14 February at the Louis Bolk Instituut


Synthesis and introduction to subproject progress at the 3rd QLIF Congress

Overall synthesis and an outline of the progress and perspectives of individual subprojects

By Urs Niggli (FiBL) and Carlo Leifert (Nafferton Organic Farming Group, University of Newcastle)

‘Improving quality and safety and reduction of cost in the European organic and 'low input' supply chains' (QLIF) is an Integrated Project under the 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission which started in March 2004 and will end in February 2009.

After three years of research by 31 QLIF partners, the scientific data on on the benefits of the system approach used in organic and ‘low input’ agriculture has expanded considerably. At the same time the project has developed an array of technological innovations that are applicable to a wide range of food production systems and novel approaches for whole food chain management.

During the 3rd QLIF Congress at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, in March 2007, these results are discussed in nine synthesis papers and in 37 in-depth papers.

Here, we present an outline and status of the QLIF project including a summary of results and progress perspectives for the QLIF subprojects to be presented during the 3rd QLIF congress. The subproject summaries are accessed througt the links below, that precede the overall synthesis. Also, a full version of the present paper vil be presented during the 3rd QLIF Congress.

  • Consumer perceptions and buying attitudes
    (subproject 1)

  • Nutritional quality and safety of organic and low input food and effects on livestock and human health (subproject 2)

  • How can different crop strategies improve the quality and safety of food?
    (subproject 3)

  • How can different livestock strategies improve the quality and safety of food?
    (subproject 4)

  • Improving food quality and safety by ‘low input’ food processing methods
    (subproject 5)

  • Improving food quality and safety by HACCP and reducing costs of the organic food chain
    (subproject 6)

  • Assessment of the ecological impact of novel strategies and technologies in organic food systems and outreach of the QLIF project
    (subproject 7)

Overall synthesis

The first three years of the QLIF project have clearly demonstrated the significant advantages of using a large ‘integrated project’ approach for the development of an industry (low input and organic farming, processing and retailing) that relies on the integration of both (a) a wide range of production system components and (b) multidisciplinary teams from across Europe to achieve its food quality, safety and production efficiency targets.

QLIF has clearly already contributed significantly to achieving its specific research & development and wider integration objectives. It has also identified a range of issues (most importantly to select and breed crop varieties and animal breeds that are better adapted to organic and low input systems) that need to be addressed in future integrated research & development programmes.


The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the European Community and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities, for the Integrated Project QUALITYLOWINPUTFOOD, FP6-FOOD-CT-2003- 506358.