The organic movement 

was his life.  

Dr. Rainer Bächi, founder and director of the Institute for Marketecology (IMO, today Ecocert IMOswiss AG) died while on a business trip in Georgia. His life ended unexpectedly in a tragic car accident in the early hours of 10 June 2010.
Rainer Bächi was born in Zürich on 31 July, 1948. He and his two brothers grew up in an anthroposophical home where he soon came into contact with the arts, with nature and matters concerning health. When he was in the lower classes of the Rudolf Steiner School in Zürich, he already knew that he wanted to become a teacher and this was the profession he learned first.
During his school years, he went to America as an exchange student and was deeply impressed by the uncultivated areas of land he saw there. The decision to become a farmer and to cultivate and use the land in a natural manner had its roots here.
In 1974 he graduated in agricultural sciences at the ETH Zürich (The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). The following 2 years were spent working together with his wife on the Dottenfelderhof, one of the first biodynamic farms in Germany. Due to the exorbitant price of land and the lack of tenancies, he was unable to fulfil his wish of running his own farm and thus turned his attention to the retail sector and managed the health food shop “Vier Linden” in Zürich for 3 years.

However, the fascination of biodynamic agriculture was to captivate him for the rest of his life. He began his doctoral studies in Rudolf Steiner’s ashing method in order to get scientific acknowledgement of this method. On the successful completion of his doctorate in 1985, he had carried out not only uncountable numbers of experiments in the laboratory but also of outside tests, and was in contact with all leading European experts in biodynamic agriculture.

From 1985 to 1990, Rainer Bächi was director of the VSBLO, the forerunner of today’s Bio Suisse. At the same time, he acted as secretary of the Demeter Trademark Commission and of the Biodynamic Consumer Association in Switzerland.

Those years saw the start of the boom in organic farming. Something innovative was developing at all levels and this was exactly the right environment for Rainer Bächi; his power of leadership and commitment to his ideas developed and left their stamp on the organic movement in numerous ways. To mention just a few:

  • foundation of the cooperatives for the debt-relief of farms
  • advancement of collaboration between producers, traders and consumers
  • new marketing initiatives for Demeter-quality meat and milk
  • protection of the Demeter trademark
  • advancement of research and guidance in organic agriculture
  • organisation of international conferences
  • foundation and organisation of the first Swiss Organic Trade Fair (ERDA)

In 1989 Rainer Bächi founded the non-profit “Bio-Foundation” to advance eco-friendly products and an alternative form of consumer behaviour.

It was his vision to build a bridge between the languages and cultures of the simple farmers in developing countries and the demands of the consumers in the highly technical ones. A better understanding on both sides was what he wanted to achieve.

The Institute for Marketecology (IMO), of which Rainer Bächi was director until his death, began as a department of this foundation.

From its beginnings, the IMO focused on the control and certification of organic produce. Without the foresight and drive of Rainer Bächi, the IMO would not be the leading service provider in its field that it is today, nor would it be recognized worldwide as a highly qualified, independent certification body.

Rainer Bächi was a highly creative thinker whose approach to finding solutions to challenges was always unusual. With the founding of the IMO group in 2006, in which he brought together the different IMO companies worldwide in a holding, he created a corporate form, innovative not only in a business but also in a social sense. His aim was to embrace the manifold cultural influences and peculiarities of the individual offices but at the same time to guarantee a uniform quality standard worldwide. The individual and his or her personal responsibility was always most important to Rainer Bächi. This conviction was reflected in the way he trusted his staff, whatever our age, religion or social background, and in the way he encouraged us all to make our individual contribution to the organic movement.
Rainer Bächi observed the increasing red tape attached to organic agriculture critically and he persistently questioned developments that were in conflict with his ideals. A man like Rainer Bächi never allowed himself to be restricted by practical constraints or the ever-increasing lists of rules and regulations of the world of certification; with innovative ideas, he was always a step ahead of the sluggish bureaucracy.
With the passing away of Rainer Bächi, we lose not only a charismatic pioneer of the organic movement but also our teacher, visionary thinker and business leader who had always shown us the road ahead. It is our hope, that with the support of our clients and business partners, we will succeed in furthering his life-work and give it the direction he would have wished for.
We grieve for and are thankful for the time we shared with this extraordinary man.
Weinfelden, June 2010
The team of the Institute for Marketecology IMO

The idea of association

Bächi’s whole way of thinking was deeply rooted in spiritual ideals which always directed his actions. Rainer Bächi was convinced that organic agriculture needs new economic structures. The important thing for him was never just the product alone or the mere fulfilment of the need for healthy food; it was more, it was always about the ecological sustainability of the projects and above all about the people involved in the projects; it was important to provide those people living in the rural areas of developing countries with a source of income free from the constraints of monopolisation; it was important to give them a perspective for the future.

"The only reliable quality assurance is based on individual responsibility."

Some of the visions of Rainer Bächi were part of an interview with Rainer Bächi and Elisabeth Rüegg in "Die Drei" published in 2004 by Enno Schmidt: "Die Zeit ist reif." (available in German and Spanish). Some of the thoughts are part of the article written in the obituary by Stephan Stockmar "A Bridge Builder. On the Death of Rainer Bächi" in Die Drei 07/2010 (German Version).
Read more in a comment written by Rainer Bächi for the TOS; republished in TOS 111/2010.

Think about the basic principles of organic “agri-culture” and discover a little picture book written by Dr. Rainer Bächi at

Visions for the organic movement

On the occasion of the 60th birthday of Dr. Rainer Bächi the IMO staff members organised an exceptional publication: Visions for the organic movement. Friends of IMO were invited to participate and to tell about their visions and perspectives of the organic sector. The idea was to bring together ideas, thoughts and opinions and thus thought-provoking impulses.
Download this book in PDF format.

The outreach of our actions is universal

Implementing his first cultural impulse Rainer Bächi described on the backside the social impulse of his doings and its importance for our time. On the colored side we see a perfectly conceived picture by the artist Werner Andreas Petraschke, which represents an imagination of the earth.

In a global world
The outreach of our actions is universal.
The more we anticipate the well-being of the community
And of its individual members in our doings
The better it will be for the future of mankind
And in return for ourselves.

If in a global world

We take responsibility for the well-being of all
And if this becomes the principle of our action,
Our unique development will play an integral part
In a colorful social, economical and ecological harmony.

                                                                                    Dr. Rainer Bächi

In Memoriam Dr. Rainer Bächi (1948-2010)

"Rainer served on the IFOAM World Board for six years (1990-96). Following his participation on the World Board, Rainer continued to serve IFOAM, offering indispensable advice. His input was instrumental in the development of the IFOAM Accreditation Program for the revised Organic Guarantee System. IFOAM encourages its Affiliates to keep his memory alive."
IFOAM in Action No.104 • July 2010

"Rainer Bächi war der erste globale Kontrolleur. Ab 1985 hat er für Bio Suisse eine internationale Zertifizierung aufgebaut und ist mit dem IMO bis heute der weltweit führende Zertifizierer mit Wurzeln im Biolandbau geblieben. Rainer Bächi war ein wirklich kraftvoller Geist und Pionier mit einem eisernen Willen." Urs Niggli, Director FIBL

"Rainer Bachi was a pioneer in world wide certification for smallholders, grower groups and those who had no access to market. He will be sorely missed. Thankfully he has left a strong organization to carry on." John O'Malley Burns, Mouvman Moun Mango, Haiti

"Die ganze Bewegung der biologischen und biologisch-dynamischen Landwirtschaft verliert mit ihm einen der wichtigsten Vordenker, sein Weggang hinterlässt eine schwer zu füllende Lücke. Er war ein Streiter für echte Qualität, ohne die Menschen aus dem Auge zu lassen und so konnte er immer gute und pragmatische Lösungen finden. Wir verlieren einen hoch geschätzten Berater, aber vor allem werden wir den Menschen Rainer Bächi mit seinem feinen Sinn für Humor vermissen." Dr. Johannes Stellmann, Wala Heilmittel GmbH

"His invaluable contribution to the Organic World will always remind us of his untiring and determined efforts to effect positive change." Sanjay Bansal, Ambootia Tea Group, India

"I will always remember how Rainer always had time to speak, however busy he was and if asked to, always gave such good solid advice. This amongst many things had given me enormous respect for him. I must also say that Rainer had a wonderful sense of humour, which I greatly enjoyed. More latterly in my work for Earthoil Plantations, whereby IMO had become our principle certifier; again his insight and advice was of great benefit to myself and my company. It should be noted that IMO is greatly respected by myself and my colleagues; in no small part this was resultant from the way in which Rainer approached his work, and I guess his life in general." Rob Hardy, Earthoil; former as International Manager for the Soil Association

"Since the early days of EOCC, Rainer never got tired to raise his voice for pragmatic but also for visionary solutions in the field of certification. Just recently, he took over an active role in the Task Force “Korea Accreditation” offering his experience and expertise for a joint constructive solution. EOCC will miss a precious colleague and friend." Michel Reynaud, President EOCC

"Rainer Bächi war für mich ein Mensch, der seiner inneren Überzeugung folgte und seinen Prinzipien immer treu geblieben ist. Für mich ist beeindruckend, wie viel ein Mensch in seinem Leben bewirken kann.Lorenz Roggli, Leitender Begutachter, Schweizerische Akkreditierungsstelle SAS

"Wir haben ihn als sehr kompetenten Geschäftsführer und als sehr eigenverantwortlichen und loyalen Menschen kennen gelernt, der bei allen Diskussionen und Verhandlungen nie den Menschen und die Erhaltung der Natur aus den Augen verlor und stets für seine Überzeugung kämpfte“ Gabriele Kolompar, Vorstand Internationaler Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft (IVN)

"Er war Vordenker, Querdenker und Motivator – ein Vorbild für uns alle." SIPPO-Team

"Mit Dr. Rainer Bächi verliert die ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft weltweit nicht nur einen profilierten Experten, sondern auch einen engagierten Ideengeber, der es verstand, fachliche Brillanz mit menschlicher Wärme zu verbinden. Ihn zeichnete Kommunikationsbegabung und interkulturelle Kompetenz aus. Diese Begabungen haben ihn zu einer Brücke zwischen Kontinenten, Kulturen und Wirtschaftsformen werden lassen." Elke Röder, Geschäftsführung Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN)

"I learned a lot of good lessons from Dr. Rainer Bachi. His lessons are very useful, helpful and can be applied in both work and social lives. His actions and characteristics have formed and affected me on how I would like to be! I always remember one of his instructions: The inspector is not a policeman; the inspector is just the information collector and transfers it to the office in the best manner." Hua Chi Tam, former inspector of IMO Vietnam

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