WHY GO ORGANIC?
TEN YEARS TO CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOUR TO PREVENT
CATASTROPHIC GLOBAL HEATING
One UN official stated that we may have fewer than
60 harvests left.*75
BETTER FOR THE PLANET
Organic farming is a holistic system that works with, rather than against natural systems
Organic takes a “whole system” approach to farming and food production. This means farming in a way that aims to support our whole food system, from soils and farm animals to the health of people, nature, and the planet. Organic farmers are encouraged to “close the loop” on their farms, making use of what’s to hand and limiting the use of imported resources. It’s this respect for the natural world and ability to work with natural relationships and cycles that makes organic farming a solution that is better for the planet.
BETTER FOR THE SOIL
Organic farming is based on nourishing the soil
Keeping soils fertile and preventing soil erosion is a challenge for all farmers. Instead of using artificial fertilisers, organic farmers look after their soils using manure, compost, ‘cover crops’ and crop rotations.*73 Around the world, we are losing soil much faster than it’s formed, alarmingly between 10 and 40 times faster.*74 One UN official stated that we may have fewer than 60 harvests left.*75 95% of our food production relies on soil,*76 so it has never been more crucial to farm in a way that protects and preserves the soil.
BETTER FOR WILDLIFE
Organic farming are home to 30% more species of wildlife on average *132
How do organic farms protect wildlife? Organic farming uses virtually no pesticides. Instead, organic farmers must manage pests using natural methods, like crop rotations, and attracting beneficial insects (the natural predators of pests, like ladybirds, which eat aphids).
41% of Britain’s wildlife species have declined since 1970 and more than one in ten are currently facing extinction. Intensive farming practices have been identified as the primary drivers of these declines.*130 Intensive farming is the main cause of insect decline - particularly the heavy use of pesticides.*129
If pesticides were substituted for more sustainable farming practices (like organic), this could slow or reverse the decline in insects.*143
Over 40% are declining and over a third are endangered.*125
BETTER FOR ANIMALS
Organic farming has high standards of animal welfare*177
Animal welfare is one of the most important aspects of organic farming. Organic standards insist that animals are given plenty of space and fresh air,*168 and that they are raised in conditions that suit their natural behaviour.*169 Smaller flocks and herds, and more access to the outdoors means organic animals don’t have to be routinely treated with antibiotics and wormers.*170 Mutilations like beak-trimming to prevent the aggressive side effects of stress are also not needed or allowed.*171
Knowing what's in your food
For a food product to be labelled as organic, every organisation working up and down its supply chain, from farmers and packers to food processors and organic retailers – have to meet organic standards and prove it to an organic certification body.
Those who certify with the Soil Association must also meet their additional higher standards – as shown by the Soil Association organic symbol.
The Soil Association Certification certify over 70% of organic food in the UK, meaning when you see the organic symbol you can be sure what you eat has been produced to a standard you can trust.
*73.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.4.1
*74.Pimental (2006) Soil Erosion: A food and environmental threat. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 8 (1), p.119-137.
*75.Maria Helena-Semedo speaking at the World Soil Day Forum (2014) ‘Only 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues’, covered by Chris Arsenault, Scientific American, Reuters. Available here. Same estimation by Professor John Crawford, University of Sydney in an interview with TIME magazine (2012) ‘What if the world’s soil runs out?’, World Economic Forum, TIME magazine, Dec 14th 2012.
*76.UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (2015), Healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production
*129.Sanchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys (2019) Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biological Conservation, 232, 8-27
*130.‘State of Nature 2019’ The State of Nature partnership, available from nbn.org.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf
*132.Tuck, S. L., et al (2014) ‘Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta- analysis’, The Journal of Applied Ecology, 51(3), 746–755. Available from doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12219
*143.Tuck et al, (2014) Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta- analysis’, Journal of Applied Ecology
*125.Sanchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys (2019) Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biological Conservation, 232, 8-27
*177.Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5
*168.Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1
*169.Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6
*170.Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.4.3
*171.Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.3 and 3.5.4