FOS Squared introduction and commenting
Organic food producers and farmers are in serious trouble. Their depedence on the organic seeds continues on the same way as their depedence on pesticides and in US on the carcinogenic GMO crops as Bayer (which bought Monsanto) enters the market. World food supply enters a global tragedy period.
Organic Food Is Finally Big Food, Large Enough Monsanto Got Into It
Organic food is a $120 billion industry, and while that's a tiny fraction of regular food it is large enough that companies like Chipotle and General Mills have tried to gain traction.
But a large seed company? That is new. Bayer, secretly now Monsanto (as anti-science activists love to claim in their conspiracy tales), is rolling out organic-certified seeds.
This is not as difficult as it sounds. To be certified organic, you only have to not use newer pesticides or genetic modification, anyone who claims they use no pesticides or genetic engineering thinks you are gullible. So GMOs can't be organic, for example, but over 2,000 products have been created using the predecessor of GMOs, Mutagenesis, and all of them can be considered organic even though they were mutated using chemical baths and radiation. You can create huge amounts of nitrogen run-off using older copper sulfate pesticides and be organic, you just can't use safe neonicotinoids.
Organic industry trade group have done a terrific job. First, they got their lobbyists and trade reps on a panel inside USDA that defines what "organic" means and keeps them exempted from USDA standards. So the dozens and dozens and dozens of exemptions for synthetic products or additives while still calling yourself organic has led to a lot of products being labeled organic. Non-GMO product has over 60,000 such products even when there is no GMO version.
With such a large market in places like the US and Europe, it was only a matter of time before a large company wanted a piece of that pie, and Bayer is getting in. Starting next year you can buy organically produced seeds for tomato, sweet pepper and cucumber. But don't worry, those won't say Monsanto, they will be under the Seminis and De Ruiter brands.
Source: Science 2.0
Extrait d'article en Français
Les producteurs d'aliments biologiques et les agriculteurs sont en grande difficulté. Leur dépendance vis-à-vis des semences biologiques se poursuit de la même manière que leur dépendance vis-à-vis des pesticides et aux États-Unis vis-à-vis des cultures OGM cancérigènes lorsque Bayer (qui a acheté Monsanto) entre sur le marché. L'approvisionnement alimentaire mondial entre dans une période de tragédie mondiale.
Organic food is no longer a niche market.
Sales of organic food products in the European Union have more than doubled over the last decade - from €16.3 billion in 2008 to €37.4 billion in 2018 - and demand continues to grow.
However, many Europeans are still unsure of what "organic" really means. Is it natural? Free of pesticides? Locally grown?
Well not exactly. Here are some of the conditions food products must meet in order to be considered organic in the EU:
No synthetic fertilisers
Natural fertilisers, such as compost and seaweed derivatives, are essential to maintaining fertile and healthy soil. So organic food must be grown with these products, rather than synthetic fertilisers that are used in conventional farming, and which tend to be made of harsher chemical ingredients including nitrogen compounds, phosphorus, and potassium.
"Organic farming improves soil structures and quality and enhances biodiversity. Studies have shown that organic farming present 30% more of biodiversity in the fields", explains Elena Panichi, Head of Unit at DG Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI).
No synthetic pesticides
Farmers need to fight weeds and pests. Organic farmers are only allowed to use naturally-derived pesticides, made from plants, animals, microorganisms, or minerals.
"These chemicals are of a natural origin. For instance, essential oils, plant extracts, that are listed in the relevant regulation, and are authorised, following a process that implies a scientific committee to assess the effect on the environment", says Panichi.
Organic farms also have techniques such as crop rotation, or planting different crops on the same plot of land, to help to prevent soil-borne diseases.
Natural predators, such as ladybugs, can also be an effective method of pest control.
However, it is important to remember that just because something is “natural”, it doesn’t automatically make it harmless to either people or the environment.
To be certified as “organic”, food cannot contain products made from genetically modified crops.
This rule is the same for organic meat and other livestock products. Besides, the animals are to be raised on 100% organic feed.
Antibiotics as a last resort
The animals we eat, or whose products we consume, need to be kept disease-free. Many conventional farmers routinely use antibiotics for disease prevention. These can end up making their way into the food chain.
Excessive antibiotics are not good for people or animals because they can help create superbugs. Antimicrobial resistance is a global concern. Every year, around 33, 000 people die in the EU, due to infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
On organic farms, the use of antibiotics is severely restricted. Farmers control disease by limiting the number of animals they raise and using methods such as a healthy diet for their livestock. They are only allowed to use antibiotics when absolutely necessary for an animal's health, in order to avoid suffering, and when natural remedies such as phytotherapeutic and homoeopathic medicines are not effective.
"If in conventional [farming], sometimes antibiotics are given as preventive tools, in organics, antibiotics can be given as a last resort if there are no other methods to intervene. Normally, the higher animal welfare standards applied in organics already keep animals in a healthier status that prevent the use of antibiotics", explains Panichi.
However, studies have shown that antibiotic use on farms is on the decline. Sales of animal antibiotics in the EU have fallen by more than 34% between 2011 and 2018.
Better animal welfare
Organic farmers must provide the environmental conditions necessary for animals to express their natural behaviour, such as adequate outdoor space. This is not compulsory in conventional farming.
There are additional rules such as the prohibition on caging or mutilation unless absolutely necessary for health reasons.
What "organic" doesn't mean locally grown.
Europeans are the second largest consumers of organic in the world. Local supply can’t meet demand yet, so a large number of organic products are imported.
China, Ukraine, Dominican Republic and Ecuador are the main EU trade partners for organic food imports.
Words like “natural”, “green” or “eco” on labels and packaging do not necessarily mean a product is organic.
There's a wide range of organic product on supermarket shelves, from burgers to pizzas, from cheese to wine. The health implications of consuming excess fats, salt or sugar don't disappear just because a food product is organic. Too much fat, salt and sugar is still bad for you, whether it is organic or not.
How can you be sure that the “organic” food you’re buying is actually organic?
The most reliable way to know if a product is organic is if it has this official EU logo.
The white leaf on a green background means that EU rules on production, processing, handling and distribution, have been followed and that the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients. This logo can only be used on products that have been certified by an authorised control agency or body.
Some countries have also created their own organic logos. They are optional and complementary to the EU's leaf. This is the French one, for instance.
Words like “natural”, “green” or “eco” on labels and packaging do not necessarily mean a product is organic.
New rules coming in 2022
EU rules on organic production will change soon. In 2022, Europe will have legislation with stricter controls.
Panichi believes it will bring a "substantial improvement" to the organic sector.
"We have to bear in mind that the new organic legislation is not a revolution, but it's an evolution of the organic legislation that started in the past years and has been kept evolving together with the sector".
The new legislation will harmonise rules for non-EU and EU producers. It will also simplify procedures for small farms in order to attract new producers, thanks to a new system of group validation.
The list of organic foods is expected to grow, with the addition of products such as salt and cork. The possibility of certifying insects as organic is also expected in the rules.
What is the future of organics?
"Surfaces in Europe are increasing or as well as all over the world, and they are increasing at a fast pace," says Panichi.
As part of its Farm To Fork strategy, the EU has committed to increasing organic production, with the goal of 25% of all agricultural land being used for organic farming by 2030. In 2019, it was only around 8%.
By 2030, Europe also aims to reduce the use of harmful chemicals and hazardous pesticides by 50%.
Buying organic food is still too expensive for many. One of Farm To Fork's main goals is to make healthy, sustainable food more accessible and affordable to all Europeans. A French from 2019 shows that a basket of eight organic fruits and eight organic vegetables is, on average, twice as expensive as a basket of non-organic products.
Pictures: Source for Organic Leaf picture is Euronews and European Commission is for Farm to Fork picture
Qu'est-ce qui rend les aliments biologiques « bio »?
Extrait d'article en Français
- Pour être certifiés « biologiques », les aliments ne peuvent pas contenir de produits issus de cultures génétiquement modifiées.
- Pas de pesticides de synthèse.
- L'agriculture biologique améliore la structure et la qualité des sols et renforce la biodiversité.
- Des mots comme « naturel », « vert » ou « éco » sur les étiquettes et les emballages ne signifient pas nécessairement qu'un produit est biologique.
Increasingly popular with consumers, Washington-grown organic apples and pears thrive in the region’s dry, disease-discouraging climate.
Off the tree, however, organic fruits are at the mercy of physiological disorders and fungi that can rot and destroy more than a third of the annual harvest before it gets to the table.
This fall, scientists at Washington State University are launching new research to find safe, organic-friendly ways to defeat post-harvest diseases and foodborne illnesses in apples and pears, while extending their storability.
Achour Amiri, a Wenatchee-based plant pathologist, is partnering with a team of scientists and students, including food safety and postharvest systems specialists, to test promising technologies using heat and controlled atmosphere in storage.
Funded by a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, the team is also exploring safer fruit coatings and timely sprays to limit infection and preserve organic fruit quality.
Heat after harvest
Growers currently utilise some organic treatments to keep fungi at bay in the orchard.
“Once the fruit is harvested, it’s a different story,” Amiri said. Organic packers lack effective methods to stop postharvest pathogens and physiological disorders.
Rots are their number one challenge to packing and storing fruit,” he added. “After five months, they can lose up to 50% of the crop just to rot.”
Thermotherapy, or heat treatment, is one alternative. High temperatures shut down and kill microbes, including decay-causing fungi. Thermotherapy has also been shown to keep fruits and other produce fresh longer.
“We need to find the optimal temperature to keep fruit quality and kill spores without damaging the fruit,” said Amiri, who will test heat’s effect on major fungal culprits, such as gray mold, bull’s eye rote, speck rot, and blue mold.
Apple, pear, and stone fruit varieties may have varied susceptibility to heat, so the team will test different cultivars to learn how to use thermotherapy safely.
Dynamic controlled atmosphere
Another approach involves changing the controlled atmosphere in which apples and pears are stored. Traditionally, temperature, humidity, and levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are steadily maintained to slow the ripening process and keep fruit fresh.
Amiri’s team is testing a modified practice called dynamic controlled atmosphere storage, in which oxygen levels are progressively lowered.
“We’re hoping to show evidence that this can work in reducing decay and extending fruit quality,” Amiri said.
Fruit gives off gasses in storage. Scientists can analyze these exhalations to learn if fruit is under stress, which affects freshness and firmness and can cause other disorders. Amiri seeks to find the limit before stress begins.
Better timing and ingredients
The team will also test different spray materials made of biological agents, such as beneficial bacteria, and other safer ingredients that may combat rot-causing microbes.
“Different pathogens infect fruit at different stages of the production cycle, so timing is key,” said Amiri, who plans to test ingredients through the seasons to choose the most effective approach, as well as define the best harvest window for quality and disease defense. Starting field work next spring, he’ll partner with packers and farmers to ensure discoveries work in the real world.
Amiri is excited by the cross-disciplinary nature of the project, which connects experts in pathology with fruit quality, physiology, and food safety.
“We want to develop these technologies to cover other issues beyond rots, preserving fruit quality and improving safety,” he said.
Source: WSU Insider
Photos from: Anita Jankovich Unsplash-Rotten fruits and Organic ekiosk: Live Different, Go Organic-Organic Oranges
The some other alternatives to keep fruit safe from fungi-Such case is the Organic Sundried Kymi Figs which are presrved using a bay leaf and they do not contain sulphur chemical compounds for preservation. If you would like to taste these delicious Kymi Figs follow the link on the Organic ekiosk: Live different, Go Organic
We instinctively know that the label “organic” means better. But do you know why organic farming is better, who benefits from it and how it helps the environment?
What is organic farming?
Organic farming is centred around the idea that farming should be a part of the natural cycle. It doesn’t exploit the soil but enriches it, keeps it alive, protecting biodiversity, while making farming sustainable.
It is a farming system that uses only natural fertilizers and environmentally friendly methods of pest, weed and disease control.
When it comes to plant foods, it means the crops are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, dangerous pesticides, genetic modification (GM) and ionizing radiation.
Organic farming relies on principles such as crop rotation, crop residue utilisation, composting, less mechanical and more manual labour.
Organic foods don’t contain chemical preservatives. They aren’t coated in synthetic wax (e.g. citrus fruit) and don’t contain synthetic colourants or flavourings.
That means not just that they are healthier, it also means they are fresher because they don’t have a long shelf life.
Organic crops contain no or only tiny amounts of chemical residues. They have more antioxidants and some other nutrients, richer flavour, are safer for people with food sensitivities.
They are also less likely to cause adverse reactions (due to the lack of chemicals in them) ref 1.
How is organic farming more sustainable?
Organic plant cultivation is great for the environment because it doesn’t pollute, it increases soil fertility, reduces soil erosion and protects wildlife.
That way, it ensures the land can be used for generations to come without exhausting the natural resources in the area.
One of the features of organic farming is cultivation of naturally more resilient crops that can ensure a reliable food supply.
The organic standards mean that farm workers and people living in the area are not exposed to dangerous chemicals, which supports their health. That’s also a key part of sustainability.
How does organic farming support wildlife and biodiversity?
Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals don’t just kill the unwelcome plants (weeds) or insects, they kill a number of species that are important to maintaining balance in nature.
The poster species for the devastating effects of some industrial pesticides are bees.
When bees die, our entire food supply will collapse because bees are the main pollinators ensuring successful crop yields. Yet it’s not only about bees.
Organic farming also protects thousands of other insect species, hedgehogs, birds, bats, frogs and fish. It doesn’t poison them and their environment.
Another big factor is that organic farming supports wildlife by maintaining hedgerows, ponds and woodlands.
Synthetic fertilizers can pollute streams and ponds, throwing the whole ecosystem into disarray and causing problems such as algal bloom.
When that happens, algae reproduce at a rapid pace, covering entire water surfaces and suffocating fish who live there.
This simply doesn’t happen with organic farming! But that’s not all.
By avoiding GM, organic farming also protects local species from introducing foreign genes into their populations.
It’s true that some GM plants are safe but we still don’t have enough data to be certain of long-term effects of GM on native species and the environment.
Organic foods don’t contain chemical preservatives
Why does organic farming use less energy and release less carbon emissions?
According to the longest organic versus conventional farming comparison study (ref 2), organic farming uses 45 % less energy and releases 40 % less carbon emissions.
Simply not using nitrogen fertilizer in organic agriculture saves huge amounts of oil used for its manufacture and transport.
It also saves a lot of emissions as nitrogen fertilizers produce nitrous oxide – a powerful greenhouse gas.
Another saving comes from organic farming relying more on manual labour rather than the use of machines and utilising local resources more thoroughly and efficiently.
Growing organic crops also results in greater carbon sequestration. More carbon dioxide is captured and stored in the soil as carbon.
This is a major advantage as not only it means that more carbon dioxide is sucked out of the air, it also means better soil quality.
A large study showed that the best land management practices in organic farming can increase the amount of carbon locked in the soil by 24% (ref 3).
Lastly, organic soil holds more water.
That, of course, helps to conserve water but it also means organic crops are not as severely affected by dry weather as conventionally grown crops.
Could the world’s farming ever be 100% organic?
Organic farming requires more land than conventional farming to produce the same amount of food.
Without chemicals, the yields and harvests are 10-20 % smaller (ref 4) . This begs the question whether we could feed everyone on the planet if all our farming was fully organic.
A team of researchers modelled various food production scenarios. They came to the conclusion that the world population could be fed entirely through organic farming and without any deforestation but only under one condition. If we all go vegetarian5.
Are there any disadvantages of organic farming?
That depends whether we talk organic animal or plant farming.
When it comes to plants, more manual labour and smaller yields make organic produce more expensive.
Some argue that the energy and emission savings are not that big in organic farming because we need more land than non-organic farms to produce the same amount of food.
Yet, organic farming has so many benefits that they still outweigh the need for slightly more land.
Organic animal farming is usually a little better in terms of animal welfare. But because organic standards are meant to mainly protect the consumer and the environment, it’s often the animals who pay the extra price.
It’s because the use of antibiotics and medication in general is severely restricted. So some animals may actually suffer more or for longer when they fall ill.
Is buying local and seasonal produce more or less important than buying organic?
Of course, if you can buy local, seasonal, organic produce, that’s the absolute best scenario!
If that’s impossible, it may help to organise your decision-making into steps.
Is the food organic but from the same continent? That may be the next best choice.
Is the food organic and from the other side of the world? Then it depends on your priorities. Your health versus emissions caused by transport but you may also want to factor in how often you buy it.
If it’s an occasional treat, it’s probably still a good choice.
If it’s your staple, it may be better for you to look for a more local alternative.
There’s no easy answer but the best policy may be to buy organic whenever possible and not beat yourself up when it’s not.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the world went vegan?
This is what our future would look like if plant-based farming became widespread.
1. Crinnion WJ, 2010. Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer. Altern Med Rev. 15 (1): 4-12.
2. Rodale Institute. Farming Systems Trial. Available at: https://rodaleinstitute.org/science/farming-systems-trial/
3. Crystal-Ornelas R, Thapa R, Tully KL, 2021. Soil organic carbon is affected by organic amendments, conservation tillage, and cover cropping in organic farming systems: A meta-analysis. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 312: 107356
4. Reganold JP, Wachter JM, 2016. Organic agriculture in the twenty-first century. Nat Plants. 2:15221.
5. Erb KH, Lauk C, Kastner T, Mayer A, Theurl MC, Haberl H, 2016. Exploring the biophysical option space for feeding the world without deforestation. Nat Commun. 7:11382.
Source: Food & Living Vegan
Photos from: Food & Living Vegan
We all know that organic farming benefits nature - but that isn’t just the case for food. Here’s why we need to start thinking about organic beauty too...
When you think about the ingredients in your favourite beauty products, it can be hard to believe that they come from the same farms as the food you eat. But with the farm-to-face movement growing exponentially, we need to start making the link. After all, the beauty industry is as accountable for the protection of wildlife as any other industry.
When you consider that one species being removed from the natural cycle puts others at risk (e.g.bees move between flowers and pollinate them with around 180,000 different plant species and 1200 crops reliant on this process), and that many flowering plants are the main ingredients in most natural skincare products on the market, it follows that beauty brands need to ensure that their ingredients are sourced sustainably and that their farming practices benefit the natural world.
What are agroecological practices?
Thankfully, more and more of the brains behind beauty brands have made the switch to agroecological practices – a type of farming that works with not against nature, using virtually no pesticides, protecting biodiversity, and maintaining the land to make sure it’s hospitable for all of nature’s species. By making the move to organic farms, the amount of plant, insect and bird life is thought to increase by up to 50%.
Creating this natural haven for wildlife is vital to the wellbeing of every living organism on the planet and a balanced ecosystem, where every living thing is safe to carry out its job in the food chain, means that we all have access to the nutrients we need.
Founder of the brand Nourish London, Dr. Pauline Hilli, is a scientist at the forefront of promoting planet-friendly, organic, skincare. For the last 10 years, she has been working with the natural world to produce products that are kind to skin and wildlife in equal measures.
All Nourish London products are sourced from farms that use agroecology. This means that all of the ingredients are grown in a way that builds new homes, produces food, and provides protection for a multitude of species. It’s because of this dedication to the natural world that the brand has been awarded the Soil Association organic accreditation.
“It all starts with the soil. The thing with conventional farming is that the pesticides are used to increase the yield and the soil becomes stripped and potentially contaminated. With organic farming, you have more respect for the soil with rotation and keeping the land more nourished.”
Before launching her own brand in 2011, Pauline had already been researching, formulating, and getting hands-on with natural skincare for 25 years. Her passion for creating effective organic products that compete with conventional ones has always been backed by the HEK Principle. Her set of expectations ensures that every single one of her products is Healthy, Effective and Kind to people and the planet.
“Trees are the most valuable resources. They take carbon dioxide and put out oxygen – they play an important role in cleaning our air healthily, providing habitats for animals and insects and helping to keep the soil healthy. Trees represent a real junction and interconnectedness between various species inhabiting the earth, and when we talk about deforestation and the loss of those environments we must act quickly to find alternative methods to find the raw materials we need in the most sustainable manner.”
Why do we need to act fast to protect wildlife?
Since 1970, 41% of Britain’s wildlife has declined. Habitat loss and pesticide use are key causes. Bees and other insects have lost much of their natural habitat in the past 60 years in the UK, including over 97% of wildflower meadows, hedgerows and woodland. If that wasn’t bad enough, the destruction of hospitable ecosystems has led to millions of species (500,000 animals and plants and 500,000 insects) being threatened with extinction over the coming centuries.
What can I do?
In the same way that we are responsible for the damage to wildlife, humans are in control of its future too. If we act now, we can make sure that today’s endangered species prosper in years to come.
Opting for organic products is an easy first step you can take towards healthier global wildlife, and by deciding to purchase organic products, you are directly preserving the diverse environments where birds, bugs, and bees live.
That said, it’s still pretty tricky to make planet-friendly beauty decisions. But, with the help of the Soil Association, it’s easier than ever to pick up an accredited organic beauty product if you look out for the COSMOS logo on your beauty buys.
If you want to do more for wildlife, why not build a wildlife-friendly garden? Kick things off by letting some of your lawn grow, you’ll see wildflowers and butterflies in no time. Or, if you’re struggling for outdoor space, make time to put up a bird box. Birds are an important part of your garden’s ecosystem and will help every form of garden wildlife to thrive.
A unique idea by the Finnish organic Farmers:
On the occasion of Finnish Nature Day, nearly 30 organic farms all over the country will become accessible to the public. From noon until 3 pm on 28 August, individuals and families will have the opportunity to learn more about organic agriculture and buy harvest season products. A variety of farms will participate in this event, including plant, animal, and berry farms, among others.
The purpose of the event is educational as it seeks to introduce Finnish organic production and acquaint individuals with the everyday life on farms. Therefore, attendees will be able to see the type of work that is done, get to know the animals, and participate in activities.
Moreover, children will get the opportunity to learn where organic food comes from and how farms are maintained. On the day, attendees will also be able to buy organic products, with some farms offering them for tasting at popup cafes.
Benefits of Organic Farming
According to a press release by the Finnish government, organic farming is based on respect for nature and the sustainable use of natural resources. Taking this further, the products of organic farms are healthier as they do not contain harmful chemicals.
Organic agriculture massively contributes to a better environment as the lack of pesticides and chemicals results in higher biodiversity. That is, natural plants, insects, birds, and animals can easily survive and thrive. For this reason, organic farms contain almost a third more species of plants and animals than conventionally cultivated fields.
At the Finnish Nature Day event, people will gain insight into this discussion and understand the benefits of opting for organic products. The organic farms which will participate in the event can be found on the luomu.fi website where one can find information about each farm.
Due to the current epidemiological situation in Finland, attendees will have to wear gloves at all times and face masks when indoors. Each farm may also have its own additional guidelines.
Source: The Mayor EU