Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The world goes for Organic Farming - a turnaround in Green Revolution

Let's promote organic farming for better health and well-balanced environment.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM 8 to 9 evening class Mon to Fri

Bt corn is perhaps the most controversial genetically engineered crop. It carries genetic materials from a bacterium known to be harmful to insects and other organisms - suspectedly to humans as well. Bt corn and other GMOs pollute permanently the natural gene pool, and there's no way to stopping its spread because engineered genic materials are passed on generation after generation,  ad infinitum - and cannot be cleaned up like other pollutants including nuclear fallout.

Eat more fruits and vegetables, those grown organically – without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, and the like, and above all – not genetically modified. You will live a healthier and longer life - and be kind to Nature, too.

It is true. The whole world is going green and organic. It is the current Green Revolution that provides the foundation of sustainable agriculture, balanced ecology, and healthier and longer life.

Here is a basic comparison between conventional farming and organic farming:

Conventional farming vs Organic farming

• Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. /Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.

• Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease. /Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.

• Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds. /Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.

• Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. /Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

As one who grew up in a farm and practitioner of organic farming, here are other features of organic farming, which I would like to contribute.

1. Minimized wastage. Example: gleaning of grains is done by chicken.

2. Milling of grains practically leaves no waste, even the hull is ground with bran to serve as natural fiber and roughage for animals and fish.

3. Less mess and odor on the farm through efficient recycling. Farm wastes – crop residues and animal waste - immediately go to composting.

4. Organic farming is key to tri-commodity farming – crops, animals and fish farming.

5. Agribusiness is highly profitable through organic farming. Farm produce is immediately processed like natural fruit puree, natural vinegar, natural fish sauce, and the like.

6. Freshness of farm harvest and products is enhanced, hence requires no preservatives.

7. Community-based farming is ideal with organic farming.

8. Direct marketing linkage with outlets and endusers.

9. lesser risk to human health.

10. More environment friendly. It enhances ecology, that is, it promotes welfare of the ecosystem.

11. Less dependent on fossil fuel, favors tapping alternative and renewable energy sources.

12. Integrated with farm life, managed by family or by small and medium enterprise.

13. Aesthetics and quaintness of farm life through organic farming.

14. Farm becomes a tourist attraction as model in agriculture, ecology and sanctuary of wildlife.

15. Low technology, affordable and practical, thus less expensive.

Organic food has higher nutritional value and better taste.

Results from Quality Low Food Input (QLIF), a 5-year integrated study funded by the European Commission, confirmed that the quality of crops and livestock products from organic and conventional farming systems differs considerably. Specifically, results from a QLIF project studying the effects of organic and low-input farming on crop and livestock nutritional quality "showed that organic food production methods resulted in:

(a) Higher levels of nutritionally desirable compounds (e.g., vitamins/antioxidants and poly-unsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3);

(b) Lower levels of nutritionally undesirable compounds such as heavy metals, mycotoxins, pesticide residues and glyco-alkaloids in a range of crops and/or milk;

(c) A lower risk of fecal Salmonella shedding in pigs.

Regarding taste, a 2001 study concluded that organic apples were sweeter by blind taste test. Firmness of the apples was also rated higher than those grown conventionally. In the market, organically grown fruits and vegetables look fresher and more solid.

Organic food may also have potentially higher amounts of natural biotoxins like solanine in potatoes, nicotine in tobacco, capsicin in pepper, as to compensate for the lack of externally applied fungicides and herbicides.

Organic farming favors community farms where the produce is geographically closer to the consumer. Local food is seen as a way to get fresher food and invest in one's own community.

Organic farming brings back the cultivation of native varieties

Facts and statistics about Worldwide Green and Organic Movement.

• While organic food accounts for 1–2% of total food sales worldwide, the organic food market is growing rapidly, far ahead of the rest of the food industry, in both developed and developing nations.

• World organic food sales jumped from US $23 billion in 2002 to $52 billion in 2008. It  reached the $100 billion mark last year. 

• The world organic market has been growing by 20% a year since the early 1990s, with future growth estimates ranging from 10%–50% annually depending on the country.

• Organic food is the fastest growing sector of the American Food market. Organic food sales have grown by 17 to 20 percent a year for the past few years while sales of conventional food have grown at only about 2 to 3 percent a year.

• In Canada, organic food sales surpassed $1 billion in 2006, accounting for 0.9% of food sales in Canada. Organic food sales by grocery stores were 28% higher in 2006 than in 2005.

• In the European Union 3.9% of the total utilized agricultural area is used for organic production. The countries with the highest proportion of organic land are Austria (11%) and Italy (8.4), followed by Czech Republic and Greece (both 7.2%). The lowest figures are shown for Malta (0.1%), Poland (0.6%) and Ireland (0.8%)

• In Austria 11.6% of all farmers produced organically in 2007. The government has created incentives to increase the figure to 20% in 2010. Some 4.9% of all food products sold in Austrian supermarkets (including discount stores) in 2006 were organic. There were 8000 different organic products available in the same year.

• In Italy, since 2005 all school lunches must be organic by law.

• In Poland, in 2005 around 168,000 ha of land were under organic management. 7 percent of Polish consumers buy food that was produced according to the EU-Eco-regulation. The value of the organic market is estimated at 50 million Euros (2006). It has almost doubled since then.

• In UK, organic food sales increased from just over £100 million in 1993/94 to £1.21 billion in 2004 (an 11% increase on 2003).

• In Cuba, after the collapse of the USSR in 1990, agricultural inputs that had previously been purchased from Eastern Bloc countries were no longer available in Cuba, and many Cuban farms converted to organic methods out of necessity. Consequently, organic agriculture is a mainstream practice in Cuba, while it remains an alternative practice in most other countries. Cuba exports organic citrus and citrus juices to EU markets. Cuba's forced conversion to organic methods may position the country to be a global supplier of organic products.

Organics Olympiad 2007 awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to countries based on twelve measures of organic leadership. The gold medal winners were:

• Australia with 11.8 million organic hectares.

• Mexico with 83,174 organic farms.

• Romania with 15.9 million certified wild organic hectares.

• China with 135 thousand MT of organic wild harvest produce; and with an increase of 1,998,705 organic hectares.

• Denmark with 1805 organic research publications recorded.

• Germany with 69 members of. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the worldwide umbrella organization for organic agriculture movement, uniting more than 750 member organizations in 108 countries.

• Liechtenstein with 27.9% of its agricultural land certified organic.

• Mali with an 8488% annual increase in its organic hectares, and with a 10.9% 4-yearly increment of the organic share of its total agriculture.

• Latvia with an annual 3.01% increase in its organic share of agricultural land.

• Switzerland with a per capita annual spend on organic produce of 103 Euros.

Above all concerns about organic farming, you gain peace of mind in eating products that are friendly to your health and the environment. Your fears of toxic metals like cadmium, lead and mercury are eliminated. So with residual toxicity from pesticides and chemical fertilizers. There are no antibiotic residues, induced hormones, engineered genes from bacteria and other organisms. You keep fields and waterways free from harmful runoff of chemical substances. Biologically, you keep down chances of pest and disease organisms to mutate and develop resistance.

Eating the right food enhances happiness, peace of mind, good health and long and active life - and the quality of your environment. This is a primordial Human Right. It is also the best you can contribute in saving the earth. Enjoy the quaintness of Farming with Nature.

Fruits grown organically, such as this pineapple, may not be the biggest but it is safe from chemicals and harmful residues, and genetic pollution.

References: Living with Nature in Our Times, Food and Fertilizer Technology Center publications, Internet.

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