Definitions and Principles

OF is a farming system that uses environmentally friendly methods of weed, pest, and disease control. It bans the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers,

Multifunctional agriculture

Relying on local resources

Economic efficiency

Economic aims

Long-term security of yield

Self-provided workforce

Regional self-sufficiency in foodstuffs

Fulfilling local needs

Social aims

Ecological aims


Functioning ecosystems

Saving rural communities


Figure 1 The importance of OF, where OF complies with all demands required by contemporary invariable (multifunctional agriculture). Adapted from Altieri MA (1994) Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agroecosystems. New York: Haworth Press.

emphasizes animal welfare in animal breeding, takes care of the overall harmony of agroenvironmental system and of its biological diversity, and gives priority to renewable sources of energy and to recycling of raw materials.

Thus, OF conforms to the principles of permanently sustainable development of agriculture, which no longer performs only the productive but mainly the nonproductive function. OF is perceived as an alternative resolution to the problem of depopulation of the countryside, outflow of workers from primary agricultural production, and partly also a resolution to uneven regional development.

OF adheres to globally accepted principles which are implemented in specific social, economic, geoclimatic, and cultural contexts. The principal aims of organic production and processing are outlined in the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) 'Basic Standards'. These set out an international framework for organic production and processing.

The principles and practices of OF have been consistently expressed in the standards of IFOAM as

• the principle of health - that is, OF should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human, and planet as one and indivisible;

• the principle of ecology - that is, OF should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them, and help sustain them;

• the principle of fairness - that is, OF should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities;

• the principle of care - that is, OF should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

In regard to describing the production method (OF) in different languages, the terms for OF in selected languages are as follows: Spanish: ecologico; Danish: 0kologisk; German: okologisch, biologisch; Greek: /3aoAo7Axo; English: organic; French: biologique; Italian: biologico; Dutch: biologisch; Portuguese: biologico; Finnish: luonnonmukainen; Swedish: ekologisk; Czech and Slovak: ekologicke; Polish: ekologiczne; Hungarian: Okologiai; Russian: 3Ko jorMVecioe; Croatian: ekoloska; Slovenien: ekolosko; Bulgarian: eiojorMVHo; Lithuanian: ekologine s.

the time of food shortage, technology helped propel the rapid growth of mechanized, chemical-based farming. At this point, organic concerns began to touch the wider public. During the 1960s, as problems with pesticides and related environmental and health matters became front-page news, the organic movement entered its modern phase, with widespread democratic support in a range of issues. There have been three important movements:

• biodynamic agriculture - appeared in Germany in 1924 under the inspiration of Rudolf Steiner; he emphasized the farmer's role in guiding and balancing the interaction of animals, plants, and soil; healthy animals depended upon healthy plants (for their food), healthy plants upon healthy soil, healthy soil upon healthy animals (for the manure);

organic farming - originated in England on the basis of the theories developed by Albert Howard; he documented traditional Indian farming practices, and came to regard them as superior to his conventional agricultural science; his research and further development of these methods is recorded in his writings of 1948; and

• biological agriculture - developed in Switzerland by Hans-Peter Rusch and Hans Muller.

Since 1991 when OF was defined in the EU by a legislative standard, individual historical organic methods have been losing their importance as they are rather difficult to distinguish for a consumer. One exception is in the bio-dynamic method, based on scientific knowledge of spirituality, under the Demeter trademark.

Despite the vitality of these movements, OF remained undeveloped in Europe for many years. Throughout the 1950s, the main aim of farming was to achieve a major improvement in productivity so as to satisfy immediate needs for food. Therefore, OF was unlikely to be viewed very favorably.

By the end of the 1960s, and especially in the 1970s, OF came to the forefront in response to emerging awareness of environmental conservation issues. New associations grew up (e.g., IFOAM), involving producers, consumers, and others interested in ecology and a lifestyle more in tune with nature. OF took off in the 1980s, when new production methods continued to develop, along with consumer interest in wholesome, environmentally friendly products, not only in most European countries but also in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

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