When I started in 1987 in the organic sector it took only some months to understand that healthy organic agriculture and food was necessary for the benefit of our common nature and individual health. With this internalized purpose it was not difficult to work joyfully on promoting organic through the decades of my working career. With the constant growth of the organic market and the attention for the need to transfer to organic agriculture, one can become easily satisfied.
On the contrary, as time passed by, I have become less optimistic for our common future. Of course, I also believed that the Farm to Fork strategy, with its aim of 25% organic, would be a game changer. And True Pricing would show that inclusive organic is far more profitable for society as a whole than the chemical agro-industrial production, with its massive externalised costs.
Again, I miscalculated the extreme power and aggressiveness of the conventional agro-food industry. After the successful organic years during the Covid pandemic, we encountered the war in Ukraine and the effects on prices for energy and food. The conventional industry embraced the war as a gift and demanded a stop to the sustainability efforts of the F2F strategy in the name of food security. A misleading report, financed by the industrial multinationals, claimed that the transfer to sustainable organic production would lead to lower yields and higher prices. At the same time, they launched their perspective on sustainable agriculture with the stolen word “regenerative”: a bit more crop-rotation, a bit less chemical fertilizer and pesticide. In one word: greenwashing, but nonetheless a serious attempt to steal the 20% CAP budget for Eco-scheme support. Coincidence or not, the problem of residues caused by the excessive use in industrial farming is transferred to organic: we have to prove with 100% certainty the cause of the residue when it occurs in organic. That’s a lot of work, money and insecurity when we have to bear with an average of 15-20% residue findings in all analyses of organic, mainly caused by conventional farming
And in the meantime, the actions by governments to support organic are delayed and delayed, or lack budget and ambition. As I see how conventional farmers and food multinationals in The Netherlands were for decades able to postpone necessary measures to change their food and farming system, I realize we as the organic sector have been much too polite. Successful climate activists like Extinction Rebellion, MOB and Greenpeace show us how to create urgency around the climate crisis and our survival on this beautiful planet. We have to continue our important work day in, day out to produce organic food, but should also speak out loudly to governments and society to insist that the polluter must pay (instead of grabbing the CAP money and other subsidies), and that organic should be comprehensively supported for the sake of our children.
Author: Bavo van den Idsert, Organic Consultant.
Published in the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2023 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition.
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Read the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2023 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition