Food systems contribute 19%– 29% of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions, with agricultural production contributing around 90% of total food system emissions. Recent research has also shown that conventional farming systems degrade the carbon stores in our soils. Poor agricultural practices lead to a breakdown of soil organic carbon that then is released into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The success of organic as a production system and the ability to overcome challenges that discourage farmers from transitioning to or expanding organic production rely on connections and communication between multiple groups of stakeholders.
Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) this spring introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2017, which would invest in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) to meet the needs of the growing organic sector. Sales of organic products in the U.S. reached approximately $47 billion in 2016, and expectations are for continued growth as more consumers choose organic.
Organic food and farming have many health benefits for consumers—they have lower levels and frequencies of pesticide residues, and can have higher levels of antioxidants and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, another less well-known health benefit centers on the welfare of farmworkers and families in agricultural areas.
The year 2016 yielded an impressive number of research projects of interest to the organic community, with studies coming out highlighting the environmental and health benefits of organic.
An update from The Organic Center
A trusted source of information about scientific research concerning organic food and farming, The Organic Center covers up-to-date studies on sustainable agriculture and health, and collaborates with academic and governmental institutions to fill gaps in our knowledge. The Organic Center also works to make the science of organic accessible to food producers so that they, in turn, can make organic food accessible to people of all walks of life.
This past May, The Organic Center held the first Organic Confluences Summit, aimed at examining the intersection of science and policy to find ways for the two to come together to advance the organic sector. The conference focused on sustainability, with scientific experts, farmers, policymakers, and organic stakeholders gathering in D.C. to discuss how research on organic’s contributions to the environment can be incorporated into government programs to improve the sustainability of U.S. agriculture.
Choosing organic is the best choice consumers can make to combat antibiotic resistance and protect themselves from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a review paper from The Organic Center concludes.
Overuse of antibiotics in conventional livestock production has been implicated as an important contributor to antibiotic resistance. Research demonstrates that livestock produced without the use of antibiotics—as in organic agriculture—is an important part of the solution.
The organic sector is thriving. We need more farmers, research, and consumer education to keep it that way. GRO Organic check-off will help organic continue to grow. Nearly 1,400 organic stakeholders publicly support the GRO Organic Check-Off. Be sure to weigh-in this fall when the public comment period opens up in the Federal Register! Your voice counts!