What is organic & fair trade?

Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system which originated early in the 20th century in reaction to rapidly changing farming practices.

Organic agriculture continues to be developed by various organic agriculture organizations today. It relies on fertilizers of organic origin such as compost, manure, green manure, and bone meal and places emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting.

Biological pest control, mixed cropping and the fostering of insect predators are encouraged. In general, organic standards are designed to allow the use of naturally occurring substances while prohibiting or strictly limiting synthetic substances. For instance, naturally occurring pesticides such as pyrethrin and rotenone are permitted, while synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are generally prohibited. Synthetic substances that are allowed include, for example, copper sulfate, elemental sulfur and Ivermectin. Genetically modified organisms, nanomaterials, human sewage sludge, plant growth regulators, hormones, and antibiotic use in livestock husbandry are prohibited. Reasons for advocation of organic farming include real or perceived advantages in sustainability, openness, self-sufficiency, autonomy/independence, health, food security, and food safety, although the match between perception and reality is continually challenged.

Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972.

Organic agriculture can be defined as: an integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity whilst, with rare exceptions, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth hormones.

Fair trade is a social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainable farming. Members of the movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards. The movement focuses in particular on commodities, or products which are typically exported from developing countries to developed countries. The movement seeks to promote greater equity in international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency, and respect. It promotes sustainable development by offering better trading conditions and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers in developing countries.

Fair trade is grounded in three core beliefs:

  • Producers have the power to express unity with consumers.
  • The world trade practices that currently exist promote the unequal distribution of wealth between nations.
  • Buying products from producers in developing countries at a fair price is a more efficient way of promoting sustainable development than traditional charity and aid.

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