Organic food is becoming popular in Europe and America. However for food to be sold as organic it must bear a symbol that proves that it is truly organic. This is obtained through a certification organisation. This is quite a complex procedure and is potentially expensive.
Many countries have an organic standards authority which lays down national standards and awards a symbol to farms which have followed the standards. This symbol then allows farmers to market certified organic produce. This is important, as it ensures that people know that the food which they buy is organic.
International standards are used to help countries set their own standards, which take into account different farming systems. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has produced a set of international organic standards, laid down by people from many countries. These give guidelines about what organic farming is and how it should be practised on the farm. Standards regulate production methods and in some cases final output for organic agriculture. Standards may be voluntary or legislated.
As of 2007 over 60 countries regulate organic farming. In 2005, IFOAM created the Principles of Organic Agriculture, an international guideline for certification criteria. Typically the agencies accredit certification groups rather than individual farms.
The four principles of organic agriculture are as follows:
- The Principle of Health - Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal and human 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
On our ESENSEE web, you can read more on systems of organic agriculture, benefits of organic agriculture, international standards, methods and materials used in organic farming, economics of organic agriculture, productivity and profitability of organic agriculture.