Organic agriculture is a production method based on agricultural practices which exclude the use of synthetic biocides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products derived from GMOs. Organic agriculture also seeks to limit the environmental impact by reducing its consumption of inputs and fossil energy but also by promoting natural processes such as the recycling of organic materials. In so doing, it aims to respect the living; from the soil microorganisms to human beings without forgetting the agro-ecosystems it uses. Several preventive methods can be used in organic farming: crop rotation, prophylaxis, integrated crop protection; they make it possible to limit the pressures due to bio-aggressors or yield loss. Concerning livestock, animals must be managed with a low stocking density per hectare, fed with an organic-based feedstock, treated without antibiotics and their well-being must be considered thanks to an obligation to respect natural living conditions, for instance grazing for cattle.
The first European regulation to officially recognize this mode of production dates back to 1991. Two European texts regulate organic farming from January 1st, 2009: the EC regulations of 2007 and 2008. The control of these operations is carried out by one of the government certified organizations from production to marketing, including processing. These controls enable the delivery of the certification and the Organic Agriculture Certification (“label AB” in French), guaranteeing the stipulated rules are followed.
This production method is part of the process of transitioning to agroecology. Indeed, it attempts to address the current food and environmental challenges by integrating agroecology principles which aim to maintain sustainable, high quality food.
References to explore
European commission, agriculture and rural development. 2019 : What is organic farming ?
IFOAM. 2008. Organic Agriculture: our definition.