sábado, enero 30, 2016

Eva Perroni: Has ‘organic’ been stripped of its meaning?

Dupont Circle - Washington, DC


As the organic sector rapidly expanded over recent decades, from local cooperative markets to a system of formally regulated global trade, an industrial organic sector has evolved which threatens to undermine the integrity and longstanding sustainable farm practices of the organic community. Prominent American food writer Michael Pollan highlights how the entry of giant supermarket chains like Walmart into the organic sector, for example, will likely result in simple input substitution of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers with their approved organic counterparts on large, monocultural farms, and the lengthening of the food supply chain, increasing food miles and energy use.
In an attempt to address this gap between traditional value-based organic agriculture and its globalised and industrialised form, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) developed four key principles to inspire the organic movement in its full diversity: health, ecology, fairness and care. These four principles however, serve solely as a direction for the development of organic agriculture practices, and are only partially codified in national organic certification and regulatory systems.
Over the years, organic accreditation criteria have been consistently revised – and arguably diluted – so that organic standards become less prescriptive in an attempt to make them more accessible for producers. Whilst some organic certification schemes uphold fairly stringent standards such as biodynamic certification, an independent certification system managed worldwide by Demeter International, the broader organic movement has found itself caught within a paradox: the regulatory systems initially developed to protect its integrity are now reconfiguring and, indeed, threatening the core values on which it was originally founded.

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