Your PositionOrganic FarmingWhat is Organic Farming?

What is Organic Farming?

Since chemical fertilizers and pesticides being invented, the conventional farming method has widely adopted these artificial inputs. These chemicals may induce quick effect, but they damage health, pollute environment, disturb ecosystem, intensify erosion and reduce soil fertility. Moreover, the very controversial biotechnology, genetic engineering, cannot be claimed as mature at the moment.Some genetically modified organisms are found to be possibly jeopardizing human health and environment. As consumers concern more about environment and health, the demand for organic products becomes greater.

Organic farming is an agricultural operation method. Organic operators produce, handle and process in a way with strong emphasis on environmental concerns. Their focus is not just the product itself, but the entire process from production to delivery to consumers. The whole procedure should not compromise to the organic integrity.

According to the Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (created by FAO and WHO to develop food standards) in 1999 and revised in 2001, “Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem 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 any specific function within the system.”

The IFOAM Basic Standards for Organic Production and Processing (version 2002) by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) may enrich our understanding of organic agriculture. “Organic agriculture is a whole system approach based upon a set of processes resulting in a sustainable ecosystem, safe food, good nutrition, animal welfare and social justice. Organic production therefore is more than a system of production that includes or excludes certain inputs.”

Down to the actual operation, organic producer would avoid the use of artificial chemicals, including chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and drugs for animals. They refuse genetically engineered organisms and their derivatives. The food produced accordingly would provide consumers with better confidence on the safety aspect. Organic producers would conserve soil and their environment to enhance long-term productivity. They maintain a harmonious balance between beneficial and harmful organisms to avoid the outbreak of pest and disease. For livestock, organic operators would provide adequate natural feedstuffs and maintain an environment for their innate behavioral needs of the animals. On the other hand, an organic farm inhabits more birds, butterflies, plants and other wildlife. It recognizes and protects the social rights of the people involved. Organic farming is a basic constitutive part of the sustainable development of our society.

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