1. You’ll know what’s in your food
Organic standards prohibit GM (genetically-modified) crops and the routine use of antibiotics. Because artificial fertilisers and herbicides are forbidden, no system of farming has lower pesticide use. This is why the avoidance of pesticides and additives remains one of the biggest motivators for shoppers who choose organic: not only are they limiting their exposure to these chemicals, but they are also diminishing the impact that farming has on the environment.
2. Organic farming uses fewer pesticides
Incredibly, in the 20 years between 1994 and 2004, the use of glyphosate (a herbicide also found in Roundup, a domestic weedkiller) on British cereals increased by 700%. With this level of exposure, it’s not surprising that numerous pesticides are being found on British food even after cooking and washing. Government testing in 2015 found pesticide residues in 43% of British food, and many of these contained more than one pesticide. More recent research found 123 different pesticides on the fruit provided to school children in the UK.
3. Organic standards are better for animals
Organic farming has the highest standards of animal welfare and covers living conditions, food quality as well as transport and slaughter. This means that animals are reared without the routine use of antibiotics and they graze naturally on a non-GM diet in surroundings designed to replicate their natural feeding habitats, such as agroforestry systems for chickens. For example, at Triodos Bank customer Sheepdrove Organic Farm they have introduced poultry to woodland, providing a stimulating environment for their chickens, while also supporting self-medication, balanced diet and foraging behaviour.
“On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms, with more biodiversity among species”
4. Organic farming practices are better for wildlife
Over half of Britain’s wildlife species have declined since 1970, and more than one in ten are currently facing extinction. By farming organically, farmers can help limit the impact that agriculture has on biodiversity. On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms, with more biodiversity among species. Organic farming systems ensure that farming works for the environment and countryside, as well as the consumer and grower.
By working with nature, organic farming helps support the planet and reduce the contribution of agriculture to climate change. Healthy farms and ecosystems begin with soil. It can take hundreds of years for just one or two centimetres of top soil to form and we’re currently losing around 30 football pitches of fertile soil every minute globally. This has meant that, over the last 40 years, almost a third of the world’s arable soils have been lost to erosion or pollution.
Organic farming seeks to put health back into the soil naturally, through composting and practices such as crop rotation with legumes to fix nitrogen without the need for synthetic fertilisers.
Organic September is an annual campaign led by the Soil Association. It encourages people to make small changes to their purchasing habits and aims to raise awareness of the benefits of an organic farming system for the environment, producer and everyday shopper.
*All stats, unless otherwise credited, from the Soil Association
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