By Lucy Vivante
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Rome
It may sound like a biotech medical company, but it’s not. It is a shortening and joining of the words Biologico and Mediterraneo and refers to a newly formed group of organic olive oil producers from four EU countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, and Malta. Today, the group had its inaugural meeting at IAM-B, the Institute for Mediterranean Agronomy, in Bari, Puglia’s capital. Cosimo Lacirignola, Director of the Institute said that “Olive oil has been part of human history for at least 8,000 years. In the Mediterranean there isn’t room for competition, the concept of our complimenting one another should prevail.” They are, however, hoping to boost the competitiveness of organic versus non-organic olive oil. The group
and their projects are being underwritten with funds from the European Union.
BiolMed will create a permanent transnational network made up of “Circles to Promote Quality Organic Olive Oil.” These regional branches will support organic producers, with the purpose of improving the quality of organic olive oil, and to organize regional meetings and fairs. Manuals regarding the production of high quality organic olive oil and a catalog with information about innovations will be published. Acquisition groups and farmers markets will be developed to help small local producers. (Italy has been in the throes of a food scare and recall: blue mozzarella, imported from Germany, has led the news for the past week. Because of the vivid blue mozzarella, buying locally has also had a lot of play in the news.)
BiolMed springs from the Premio Biol, or Organic Olive Oil Prize, an international competition and festival in Puglia. Puglia is the world center for organic olive oil and the festival has been taking place for the past 15 years. Two of the prizes, which had been voted upon in April, were presented today: “Masseriola,” an olive oil produced by Ascoli Satriano and winner of the Dauno Prize (Dauno is the area around Foggia) and to “De Carlo,” an extra-virgin olive oil, produced by Bitritto, winner of the National Biolpak Prize.
The leading partners in the BiolMed project are the following. For Italy: Bari’s IAM-B, the Institute of Mediterranean Agronomy; flanked by the Italian members of the Mediterranean Council; the Puglia Regional Agriculture Council; CIBI, the Italian Consortium of Organic Foods; and ICEA, the Certifying Institute for Ethics and the Environment. For Greece: the Technological Educational Institution for the Ionian Islands; and DIO, Certification & Inspection Organisation of Organic Products. For Spain: CAFAGE, the Centre for Education and Training on Organic Farming and SAEA, the Spanish Society of Organic Farming. For Malta: the Mgarr Local Council.