Not ‘new news’ perhaps – but timely and important developments for organic all the same

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Making the case for organic day in, day out can be an exhausting business. So, it’s always appreciated when others lend a hand. Two recent well-publicised interventions stand out in this respect.

The first takes the form of a new study from Rothamsted Research in the UK, showing how nature-based farming maintains high yields while dramatically cutting fertiliser use. To which, yes, it’s tempting to say ‘tell us something we don’t know’. But the scale and nature of the Rothamsted study – which involved 30 farm experiments across Europe and Africa, drawing on data from 25,000 harvests – and its authors’ conclusion that ecological intensification could “help return agriculture into a ‘safe operating space’ for humanity” make it more interesting – and potentially more important – than initial appearances suggest. And as OF&G CEO, Roger Kerr, told Natural Newsdesk, its publication is extremely timely and shows that “the world is finally catching up”.

The second, arguably more striking development, comes from France. It concerns the conclusion reached by France’s Court of Auditors that organic farming offers the best currently available set of tools and practices to achieve a transition to sustainable agriculture, and a warning that insufficient funding and policy support threatens France’s progress towards meeting landmark EU organic targets. The Court shows how organic responds to multiple environmental, health and economic challenges while being “driven by strong social delivery”, and cites scientific literature showing substantial reduction in disease risk (including cancer and diabetes) among regular consumers of organic products. 

The real significance of this high profile intervention – which produced headlines in Le Monde, Libération and France Soir – is that it comes from France’s supreme audit institution, a body tasked with ensuring fiscal efficiency, and not an organic or environmental advocacy group. 

Using sophisticated statistical tools and the latest scientific literature, the Court of Auditors has concluded that funding and policy support for organic should be seen as efficient investments in public and planetary health. 

From our own perspectives these developments might not seem like ‘new news’ – but they are are timely and important interventions nonetheless. 

Jim Manson

Photo by Nadine Redlich on Unsplash

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