What is organic farming?
Organic farming is a sustainable farming system which maintains the long-term fertility of the soil and uses less of the Earth's finite resources to produce high quality, nutritious food. Organic techniques have been developed from an understanding of soil science, crop breeding, animal husbandry and ecology. Organic farming uses crop rotation, the application of animal manures and composts, mechanical cultivation, and natural integrated pest control to maintain soil fertility, to supply plants with the nutrients they need and to control insects, weeds and other pests. Artificial fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives are prohibited.
How do we know it's organic?
Under new European legislation, only food grown by a farmer or grower, or processed by a food processor, who is registered with an approved certification body and has undergone annual inspection to ensure that it meets strict organic standards, may be sold as organic.
The Soil Association Symbol Scheme is approved under EC and UK legislation and is the largest and most respected organic certification body in this country.
Why is organic farming better?
Organic farming is better for the environment because it values and protects wildlife diversity, which plays an essential role in maintaining crop and livestock health. Organic farming is better for the soil and its micro-organisms, and the soil is nurtured as a resource for future generations. Organic farming produces better, tastier and healthier food.
What threats to human health do artificial pesticides pose?
Although all pesticides are tested by DEFRA, many used today were approved when standards were comparatively lax. Even current testing does not adequately investigate the long-term effects of low doses or the cocktail effect of mixtures of agro chemicals. There is evidence that many illnesses may be caused by the regular intake of pesticide residues.
What about artificial fertilisers?
Artificial fertilisers applied to the soil leach into the ground water and rivers.
Nitrates are a health hazard in drinking water because they can be converted into carcinogens within our bodies.
Why is organic food better for us?
Organic food is generally more nutritious and contains less chemical and nitrate residues.
No food produced in Britain can be guaranteed completely chemical free as ground water and the atmosphere are already heavily polluted. Organic food may have higher levels of vitamins and trace elements. This is because natural feeding of the crop produces a better balanced nutrient supply, whereas artificial fertilisers can cause elements such as calcium and magnesium to be so diluted in the soil that they are not taken up by plants.
Why is organic food more expensive?
Organic food is generally more expensive to produce than non-organic food. Meeting the requirements of supermarkets for cosmetic perfection results in a greater wastage of fresh produce, and distribution costs are higher for the small quantities being transported. However, the prices of organic produce are likely to fall with economies of scale as the market grows. Organic livestock are free-ranged on grass for most of the year under welfare codes which prohibit the intensive factory farming systems which supply so much of our cheap meat.
The price of organic food includes the cost of not polluting the environment with agro-chemicals or destroying wildlife and habitat. These hidden costs are not reflected in the price of non-organic food.
Why support organic farming?
If we want to enjoy our countryside, to keep it unpolluted and retain its beauty and diversity, we must farm organically.
If we want safe, healthy, nutritious food, we need organically produced food.
If we want to reject the suffering of animals in inhumane factory farms, we must support organic livestock production.
If we want sustainable production in the future, we must persuade the policy makers to support organic farming as a means of solving the many problems currently afflicting food and agriculture.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)
GMO's are prohibited in organic farming and food processing, as they are incompatible with the principles of organic agriculture, with the potential risks they pose to the environment and human health. You can be sure that any food licensed under the Soil Association symbol is as free from GMO pollution as is possible. The strict monitoring and record keeping required by the Soil Association means that everything within the organic system, be it seed, animal feed or compost can be traced and verified as GMO FREE.
So far there have been no GMO crops grown in Cornwall. Should this happen in the future we may find that the recent upturn in local farmers converting to organic systems are in danger of losing their hard won organic status as the threat of GMO pollution becomes a reality. Recent research by the Soil Association has shown that contamination may result from GM crops grown up to 6 miles away.
By saying NO to GMO's you are supporting local farmers in their struggle to remain viable.
Read more on the Soil Association Website.