Organic farming and food. European small-scale retail trade for natural products
Organic farming is a complex system, based on the conservation of the soil’s fertility, the use of techniques with a low impact on the environment, the conservation of genetic, agronomic and, as far as possible, natural diversity.
In organic farming chemical substances such as fertilizers, herbicides, anti-cryptogamic substances, insecticides or pesticides are never used.
The crops are defended, first and foremost, in a preventive way, selecting species which show hardiness towards illnesses, and intervening with appropriate cultivation techniques (the rotation of crops, the planting of hedges and trees able to give shelter to natural predators and to serve as a physical barrier against possible external polluting agents and the mixing of different crops and seedlings, etc…).
Fertilizers are strictly of natural origin, for example manure, appropriately composted, the use of mown grasses and green manure, that is, the incorporation into the soil of plants, such as clover and charlock, which have been previously planted and picked.
Another interesting aspect is the use of plants (exotic ones as well) which possess anti-parasite or even insecticide qualities such as Acorus calamus, Tribulus terrestris, Azadirachta indica and many more (NB: a list of Asian, African, Australian and American plants appropriate for such purposes is being analyzed).
When necessary, intervention for the defense of the crops is done with natural substances of vegetable origin, particular animals (predators), or minerals which are expressly allowed and/or authorized by the E.E.C.(E.E.C.=Comunità Economica Europea) Regulations, such as, for example, extracts of Azadirachta indica predator insects, pulverized rock, copper, sulphur, in this way obtaining the correction of the vital bio-chemical components present in the soil, or even its defense against cryptogams and other infestations.
The common definition of „Organic Product“ is not correct: the E.E.C. Regulation No. 2092 of 1991, and over thirty modifications and integrations that followed, establish that what is „organic“ is not the product, but the agricultural method used for its production. Therefore, there is no „organic“ apple or „organic“ fruit juice, but an apple from „organic farming“ or a fruit juice from „organic farming“.
„Organic farming“ products cannot contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), nor can they have been subjected to sterilizing treatments with radiation.
If additives are necessary, they must be chosen from the ones that the E.E.C. Regulation expressly authorizes (some raising agents, some acidity correctors, some emulsifiers, but no coloring agents, preservatives or flavor enhancers). At least 70% of ingredients must be of organic produce; the remaining ones must be among the those that are expressly authorized by the E.E.C. Regulation (algae, sugar beet, rice starch, cola nuts, etc….) and reference to the biological method is allowed only in the list of ingredients.
Only if at least 95% of the ingredients derive from organic farming is the reference to the biological method allowed in the selling name (organic farming apricot jam, organic farming pasta, etc…). In this case as well the possible components which are not of biological origin will have to be included with those that the Regulation authorizes, but it will not be necessary to indicate in detail the biological origin in the list of the ingredients.
Before its products may be considered biological, a farm must undergo a period of „changeover“, during which the land will be detoxified from the treatments of chemical agriculture (conventional agriculture) to which it was previously subjected; the length of time of the changeover is determined for each single case by the controlling authority. To be put on the market as „in conversion“, a product must have been cultivated in the full respect of all provisions for a period of time no shorter than 12 months before planting.
Author’s considerations of Organic Farming
The „changeover“ of the land is certainly the most critical aspect for the setting up of real „Organic Farming“ in Italy.
In countries like Holland, the land is prepared on the basis of the following parameters:
1) land is chosen from those that have just been taken away from the sea for the building of new dams.
2) intensive changeover cultivation is followed for at least 3 years using particular plants, the purpose of which is to eliminate salt and other substances present on the seabed.
3) greenhouses and pure water with purified external air are used.
4) the State controls the quality of the land only after at least 3 years of „changeover“.
Therefore, to start organic farming in Italy, where farmers have carried on poisoning the land for at least 50 years with pesticides, herbicides, anti-cryptogamic and other toxic substances, is going to be extremely difficult.
The author has therefore proceeded to initiate a series of studies for the chemical and radioactive decontamination of the land, with the intention of elaborating a proposal on this subject: in fact, there are about 1,500 chemical products which are variously used (in particular the active principles of pesticides); the many chemical polluting factors present in the river waters that are used for the irrigation of the land, and even rainwater, are a cause of environmental pollution.
According to the author, what could therefore be done is to institute some Organic Farming Consortiums and situate them in the lands which have been decontaminated with the appropriate plants such as Arundo donax, Heliantus annuus, the latter being particularly effective even against radionuclides like Caesium 137 and Strontium 90 in Chernobyl (676, 677) Zea mays, Fagopyrum esculentum, Iris pseudo-acorus, Typha latifolia, etc…(Perhaps, against the Uranium in ex Yugoslavia..)
Thus, the return to a capillary distribution of fruit and vegetable products, based on the trust existing between producers of fruit and vegetables, the owners of shops, both big and small, including supermarket chains, and regular customers, would be the best guarantee with regards to “organic” products, irrespective of the more or less valid certifications of the „organic“ product’s goodness.
This could reopen the market to a positive and conscious competition between big and small European companies interested in revaluing agricultural lands which are still being subjected to overexploitation in the cultivation techniques used; these can no longer be considered „modern“ in a scientific sense, on the basis of current knowledge in human biochemistry (cancer causing) and in the environmental biology of flora and fauna.
For the Renaissance of organic agriculture in Europa
Thus, it is necessary to keep the seeds of the short but great worldwide agricultural tradition, born from agricultural traditions, the result of ages of traditions in peasant civilization. But, if the countryside is less and less populated, if little family-run agricultural companies give up to few huge companies that cultivate GM products, if the only market solution is that of the great organized distribution, then there is no hope for the biodiversity of organic agriculture, the direct descendant of thousands of agricultural human civilizations, because the great distribution of food products itself has been the main cause of its disappearance.
In order for biodiversity to come back, in order for the old varieties of fruit, vegetables, cereals and legumes to be cultivated again, it is necessary to create the bases for a Renaissance of the worldwide peasant culture, that was born from the work and the fusion of millenary world cultures.
This new base will give a huge economic help to organic agriculture by selling directly (without intermediaries) farm products, coming directly from the hands of the farmer to the hands of the patients and their families.
Small covered markets will have to be built, where the LAW can check whether the prices for organic products are fair. The prices will then be decided respecting the prices of similar products sold in nearby places, thus avoiding speculation, and sold above a certain price, in order to help farmers continuing their organic production, because this will mean respecting a “fair price” for the farmer.
This model represents the close future; it is the present for many companies in Europe, and it causes a series of positive effects on the economy of the countryside.
It is thus important to connect peasants to people living in cities, using free lists of organic food companies, that are able to sell their products directly (INTERNET), that is “local food”, or a “map of local food”.
Christmas 2005: Crisis of the organic market in the USA (Extracted from Just Food, 20th December 2005)
According to Organic Monitor, most sectors in Organic Farming are facing a lack of raw products, which is hindering the market development: a shortage of biological products is leading American companies to search for raw material abroad. The amounts of imported FRUIT, VEGETABLES, CEREALS, LEGUMES and OFFICINAL HERBS are increasing.
In the international trade, American importations are increasing steadily: importations in the USA are estimated to be over 1-2 billion Euro-dollar, as against 100-200,000 Euro-Dollar of exportations of American products.
The shortage of organic products is causing economic problems: almost all sectors in Organic Agriculture are in crisis. Many American retailers had empty shelves during the year. For example, on the market of organic FRUIT juices, one of leading company is going out of the market because there is a lack of organic FRUIT in the USA and importations from abroad have prohibitive costs.
Organic Monitor estimates that 80% of actual production of organic juice will disappear from the American market because of the withdrawal of this USA company.
Source: The book Thousand Plants against Cancer without Chemo-Therapy, author Giuseppe Nacci, M.D