What is Organic Agriculture
...as a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people; relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects; and combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. [IFOAM]
Organic should be the rule not the exception
A mere century ago, we witnessed the birth of the '
green revolution'. Food systems that predated this
recent era were all in line with Organic Principles
and Agroecology Practices (OPAP).
These are the core principles from which Organic Agriculture is rooted:
They express the contribution that Organic Agriculture can make to the world. Composed as inter-connected ethical principles to inspire the Organic and Agroecology movement - in its full diversity, they guide our development of positions, programs, standards, and recommendations.
The Principle of Health: Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.
The Principle of Ecology: Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
The Principle of Fairness: Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities
The Principle of Care: Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.
It is ones moral duty to preserve the natural well-being of the planet for the future seventh generation, while considering everyone's nutritional needs in a sustainable and fair manner.
South American Agroecologist , Pablo Tittonell , Agroecology to feed the planet.
"The organic approach is itself a living study.
As such it has to adapt to the changing times and needs of the people it serves."
Conventional Agriculture, which has only been around for the past 100 years, since the rise of the Green Revolution, runs on a completely opposing set of principles.
Where Organic Agriculture and Agroecology refer to The Principle of Health, conventional agriculture, ironically now being referred to as ‘Conservation Agriculture’, condone the use of chemical-based fertilisers, pesticides, and GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). The poisons in this method of agriculture have detrimental effects on biodiversity – insects, plants, microorganisms, and on the health of the workers and communities living in close proximity of these farms.
These pesticides remain in the plant and consumers are not aware of the health risks posed by these chemicals. From a food safety and an environmental sustainability standpoint, the use of these toxic additives have been said to disrupt immune systems and ecosystems, The World Health Organisation has classified the widely used pesticide, glyphosate, as ‘a possible carcinogen’. (Read more, here) Over and above glyphosate, there is a long list of other harmful inert ingredients that have not yet been tested in this popular and wide used pesticide brew, Roundup. However many places in the world have banned glyphosate and booted agrochemical companies like Monsanto, out. (See a list of countries that have banned GMO's & glyphosate, here.)
Where Organic Agriculture and Agroecology refer to the Principle of Ecology, conventional agriculture respects a completely opposing set of values. Through the use of disruptive agrochemicals, mentioned above, coupled with machine intensive agricultural methods, Conventional Agriculture, also known as, Conservation Agriculture, is responsible for immense soil depletion and erosion.
Chemical contamination of ecosystems and over-tilling of the soil has lead to the demise of overall soil life. Soil teams with micro-life, millions of micro-bacteria is a microscopic life force. The ‘dirt’ beneath our feet, simply put, is the building blocks of life upon which all of the Earth's systems depend on its health. Industrial-inputs deplete soil life rather than build it.
Where Organic Agriculture and Agroecology refer to the Principle of Care, Conventional Agriculture reveals a less than cautionary track record in terms of ‘health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.’ Without healthy living soil, clean water systems, trees to provide us with fresh oxygen to breathe and balanced eco-systems we are likely to witness an ecosystemic collapse.
Moreover, it is said that climate change may be reversed by means of sustainable food systems such as organic/agroecological practices.
Furthermore over 60% of carbon emissions is directly related to conventional agriculture.
Where Organic Agriculture and Agroecology refer to the Principle of Fairness, Conventional Agriculture produces key constraints to production for local entrant farmers and small-scale producers, leaving them at an unfair disadvantage. Organic Agriculture also does not have the costly inputs that Conventional Agriculture does.
Organic provides a system where producers and farmers can build upon a solid foundation while utilising the land in best-practice, regenerating soil life and preserving biodiversity. Whereas in Conventional Agriculture we see the push of GMO’s and agrochemicals, often these inputs are expensive and unsustainable for farmers as well as extremely detrimental to the natural environment.
Imagine if we could go back to our roots, roots that are embedded in a deep ancient and traditional agricultural wisdom that prides itself in the natural cycles. Then we would be going back to the one true agriculture, one that has been passed down to us, and that does not disrespect the harmony of nature, and the health of its inhabitants.
This is a legacy we must think twice about before it is lost forever. It is our duty, as custodians of this land to ensure we build a food system that will ethically provide for all of the social, economic and environmental needs of the future generations of South Africa.