Multiple scientific studies warn about the risks to the environment and health posed by pesticides, used on a daily basis in conventional agriculture.
Faced with this reality, organic farming is presented as a significant alternative. In this article we will highlight its key values …
Organic farming began to develop in the first quarter of the 20th century in response to the massive use of mineral fertilizers and synthetic pesticides to increase agricultural yield. Later, in the 1970s, private initiatives to regulate organic products multiplied, and promote the current official recognition of the benefits of organic farming.
Organic farming is linked to that of our grandparents, but incorporates modern scientific knowledge. In this sense, organic farming does not see the environment as a threat to the development of crops, but adapts to each ecosystem, trying to make the best use of local conditions.
Organic products incorporate the organic certification label, which seeks to facilitate their identification and guarantees that at least 95% of their ingredients have been produced following the Community standards that regulate organic farming. Other official certificates granted by the organic farming regulatory councils of the autonomous communities or authorized private entities also accompany organic products.
Organic farming contributes to the protection of our natural resources, biodiversity, animal welfare and helps in the development of rural areas. But how do you get it? Mainly, avoiding the use of chemicals that can remain in the soil and food for a long time, with effects on the environment and potential damage to people’s health.
Organic farming involves a different approach to food production. To avoid resorting intensively to pesticides, organic crops have various measures, such as crop rotation to avoid the incidence of disease or the use of more resistant plant varieties, adapted to the local environment and with greater genetic variability, which allows a better adaptation to changes such as weather. Furthermore, organic farming uses only natural plant protection products.
The use of indigenous species instead of a limited number of common plant species around the world, as is done in conventional crops, allows the conservation of these local varieties and, consequently, of biodiversity. At the same time, the non-use of insecticides or other aggressive products prevents the reduction of wild and auxiliary species such as bees, which are key to pollination and, therefore, for food production.
It is common to hear the message that organic farming has a serious drawback: an alleged inability to feed the entire world population.
However, as the full report Organic can feed the world mentions, what is often lacking in the conventional versus organic farming debate are studies supporting the idea that organic farming cannot feed a growing world population.
At the same time, organic farming is a mode of agricultural development that not only presents strong conceptual connections with the right to food. But it has also been shown to give results to move quickly towards the realization of that human right for many vulnerable groups in various countries and settings. Organic farming it contributes to greater social welfare, through fair remuneration and work without exploitation that improves control over resources.
On the other hand, among others, a study by Cornell University found similar levels of productivity between both systems or it is estimated that there is a balance of costs, given the externalities that traditional agriculture generates.
Along with the development of the market and the distribution of organic food, with great room for improvement, the prices of the organic farming sector are also influenced by the internalization of the so-called “hidden costs” of conventional agriculture. Organic farming systems allow avoiding environmental costs such as the contamination of aquifers or soil erosion, which are associated with conventional crops, although they do not appear in the final price of the products.