Organic Agriculture and Food Production Ecological Environmental Food Safety and Nutritional Quality Issues

Reza Ghorbani, Alireza Koocheki, Kirsten Brandt, Stephen Wilcockson, and Carlo Leifert

Abstract Conventional agricultural systems should not only produce much greater amounts of food, feed, fibre and energy to meet the global needs, but also challenge problems to improve health and social well-being of man, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, adapt to climate change and extreme weather, reduce environmental degradation and decline in the quality of soil, water, air and land resources throughout the world as well. The present one-dimensional physical and chemical production systems should be replaced by an agricultural paradigm that rely more on biology, ecology and sociology, and meet global food needs based on the soil, water, land and fertility resources without compromising the capacity of future generations in meeting their environmental, food and resource needs. Organic agriculture as an alternative to conventional systems of food production should contain features of agricultural systems that promote the environmentally, socially and economically sound production of food and fibre, and aim to optimize quality at all levels. The underlying principles are to minimize the use of external inputs as far as possible and use of resources and practices that enhance the balance of ecosystems and integrate components of farming systems into an ecological system. Organic agriculture is developing rapidly and the organic land area is increased by almost 1.8 million hectares compared to the consolidated data from 2005. Worldwide, in 2006, over 30.4 million hectares were managed organically by more than 700000 farms, constituting 0.65 percent of the agricultural land of the countries surveyed. Recognizing the ecological principles, self-regulating

Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, P.O. Box 91775-1163, Mashhad, Iran e-mail: [email protected]

K. Brandt and S. Wilcockson

School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Agriculture Building, Kings Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

C. Leifert

Nafferton Ecological Farming Group, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Nafferton Farm, Stocksfield, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE43 7XD, UK

E. Lichtfouse (ed.), Sociology, Organic Farming, Climate Change and Soil Science, 77

Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 3, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3333-8_4, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

ability and system stability, agro-biodiversity, climate change and global warming, soil nutrients and soil biology, erosion, nonchemical crop protection and generally agroecosystem health are the most significant ecological and environmental issues regarding production systems. Organic agriculture in farming, processing, distribution or consumption is to sustain and enhance the process of food safety and health at all stages and levels of the agroecosystem in order to prevent serious food safety hazards such as pathogens like prions (BSE), allergens, mycotox-ins, dioxins, GMOs, pesticide residues, growth hormones, food additives like colorants, preservatives, flavours, process aids, nitrite added to processed meat, salt, added sugar and saturated fat. There are growing evidences suggesting that organic agricultural systems produce enough quantity and quality foods and have a number of ecological, environmental and health advantages for consumers over food from conventional systems.

Keywords Organic farming • Biodiversity • Climate change • CO2 • Soil carbon • N2O • Methane • Soil microbial biomass • Erosion • Food quality

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