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Organic farming definition: specifications

Obtaining and maintaining an organic farming certification means that a requested to an approved organization needs to be done. Businesses will then get certified if they show evidence of complying with strict specifications which vary depending on the type of production. Yet, some of the most common principles of organic farming are:

  • No use of “synthetic” chemicals  – yet, fertilizers or pesticides at their “natural origin” are allowed;
  • No use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
  • Recycle all organic waste;
  • Crop rotation to improve soil regeneration;
  • Pest control by biological agents;
  • Extensive breeding with organic food and give priority to alternative medicines and preventions;
  • Ensure animal welfare (soil surfaces must be habitable, there must be outdoor courses and grazing, prohibition of breeding above the ground);
  • Respect for the environment and preservation of natural resources;
  • Maintenance and development of biodiversity (cultivation and breeding of various species, maintaining or planting hedges).

It is also important to note that a transition period is required for the conversion of a conventional farm into a certified organic farm. This period depends on the type of production but it usually takes up to three years.

Are Pesticides Allowed In Organic Farming? Which Products Are Allowed In Organic Farming?

organic farming definition pesticides
Contrary to popular belief, organic farming does not prohibit the use of pesticides and fertilizers and most farms in organic farming use fertilizers and/or pesticides (for details see: Are pesticides allowed in organic farming?). For example, copper sulfate is a pesticide used in organic farming in the wine industry. In total, there are several hundred pesticides and fertilizers authorized in organic farming which are listed in annexes I and II of the EC Regulation n ° 889/2008 .
The difference between organic and conventional agriculture lies in the origin of the products (fertilizers and pesticides) used. In organic farming, pesticides and fertilizers must be of “natural origin”, i.e., they must be products that can be found in natural materials, such as mineral copper sulfate. However, in conventional agriculture, they can be synthetic, i.e., manufactured in laboratories.

Organic Farming Regulation: Standards And Labels

At the European Union level, the Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007, together with two 2018 Commission Regulations, presented the legal framework, principles, and standards for organic production, control, and marketing in the EU. These texts are intended to replace all national specifications, with the exception of a few specific cases of local production.
Since July 2010, the logo of the European organic label, known as euro sheet, must appear on all products from organic agriculture packaged in the Union, as well as the mention of the certifying body. The logos of the national labels are optional and often spared.