Are standards and regulations of organic farming moving away from small farmers' knowledge?

Organic farming is a promising agricultural method with positive effects on the human ecological and social environment. Governments have taken over a major role in defining organic farming by creating legal standards. Many countries all over the world have established a certification and accreditation system in order to protect the justified expectations of consumers with regard to processing and controlling the product quality of organic goods and to protecting producers from fraudulent trade practices. As they are relevant to international trade, these standards do not only influence the organic farming movement on the national level but also have a converse impact across national borders. Organic farming was established in a bottom-up process as farmers aimed to design sustainable ways of using natural resources. Farmers' traditional knowledge and their awareness of ecological, as well as, of social affairs was the main base for the development of organic farming. Since public interest in organic farming has grown rapidly, the ownership on the process of defining organic farming is no longer in the hands of farmers and the original principles and aims of the movement seem to be threatened by a bureaucratic view of "recipe"-organic farming. However, unsolved problems also exist between the necessities of global harmonization and the local adaptability of the standards on organic farming. This paper structures the current discussion and gives future prospects for further development.

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Keywords:

Accreditation, Adaptation, Certification, Globalization, Harmonization, Innovation, Local knowledge, Organic farming, Standards, Traditional ecological knowledge

Additional information:

Language(s):English
AuthorsVogl, Christian R. (Institute for Organic Farming, University for Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria), Kilcher, Lucas (Research Institute Organic Farming Organic Agriculture, Frick, Switzerland), Schmidt, Hanspeter (Attorney-at-Law, Oberlandesgericht Karlsruhe, Germany)
Publisher:The Haworth Press, Inc.
Keywords:Accreditation, Adaptation, Certification, Globalization, Harmonization, Innovation, Local knowledge, Organic farming, Standards, Traditional ecological knowledge
Last update:2005