World pesticide use has reached nearly 6 billion pounds per year, with the United States alone accounting for over 20% of that use. The Environmental Protection Agency has registered and approved almost 1,400 pesticides with over 900 active ingredients for use in the U.S. The majority are used on conventional farms in the form of synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fumigants.
Today’s organic farmers, like all farmers, are consummate problem solvers and masters of many skills. However, reliable assistance and educational tools to successfully deal with the daily challenges of their operations are often lacking.
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.