‘Organic’ is a buzzword.
Producing and consuming organic foods have gained its momentum around the world. As an approach to achieve sustainable agriculture, the main goal of organic agriculture is environmental preservation with significant concerns on biodiversity and animal welfare. The Codex Alimentarius Commission of Food Agriculture Organization/ World Health Organization Food Standards Programme states:
Organic agriculture is holistic production management systems which promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, cultural, biological and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill [sic] any specific function within the system.
The United States Department of Agriculture puts it more simply as a method of cultivating crops and raising livestock without the use of synthetic products like pesticides or plastic packaging. Organic agriculture is a resistance to industrialized agriculture.
As opposed to common beliefs that organic agriculture and sustainable agriculture are identical, these two systems have certain differential practices.
According to GRACE Communications Foundation, organic farms can be at an industrial scale with large agribusiness corporation involvements, and their products are not necessarily sold locally. Further, even though there are some concerns of animal welfare, confinement of animal mobility happens and even results in animals having to stay in housing against their natural behaviors. Yet organic agriculture is still an important step to achieve sustainability.
In the United States, for any products to be labeled ‘organic’, they must get certification, according to GRACE. Further, after 22 years of reviewing data, researchers at Cornell University conclude that for crops like corn and soybeans, the yields produced by organic farming and conventional farming are “the same… but [organic farming] uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides”.
A report published by the Worldwatch Institute also maintains that organic farming are high-tech, low impact and high-calorie farms that have the capacity to feed the world. Even more surprisingly and more interestingly, as the institute reports, the impacts of increasing yields from shifting to organic farming are “highest and more consistent” in less developing countries. In other words, organic agriculture is an important solution to feed the world.
Feature Image Credit: http://hereandnow.legacy.wbur.org/