Organic Agriculture & Agro-ecology

[Les traductions de cette page sont dans le “pipeline”]

The English term designating the production method known as Organic agriculture, is synonymous in other languages with various other terms (example: ekologischer Landbau, agricultura ecologica or biologica, agriculture biologique) insofar as the method is codified by legislation (setting the legal minimum standard) and/or by higher private standards. Certain countries or common markets require third-party certification for imports and for products traded within their jurisdiction.

The Organic production method itself is not a theory, an ideology or a trading system, it is a production method.. based on modern agronomy of the living soil (20th century agro-biology, NOT 19th century chemistry). The method and its techniques are defined in different jurisdictions and/or private standards, according to which the farmer is certified, thus guaranteeing what is asserted by the product label. This certification follows traceable products for distribution in any market where third party certification is obligatory, including large single markets (such as Europe & North America) thereby avoiding abusive claims, maintaining consumer confidence and, also, covering farmers whose products are exported overseas to these markets.

Nonetheless, for domestic distribution in local, national or sub-regional markets in the South, the Participatory Guarantee System PGS can reinforce or resurrect social infra-structure and is cheap and sufficient for farmers who organise themselves for this purpose, with reference to a precisely codified agro-biological method of production, based upon the same regenerative agronomy and the same historic refusal of synthetic industrial chemicals (especially fertilisers & pesticides), as well as refusal of genetically adulterated & patented monopoly seed. This voluntary refusal was the vital contribution of pioneer farmers & scientists of the twentieth century, primarily motivated to protect the peasant class from the indignity and despair of debt-driven exile resulting from so-called modernisation, including monoculture, and to resist the cynical land-grabbing that industry & finance continue to impose for pseudo-economic reasons, actually increasing malnutrition, under-nutrition & mass migration. The effects of monopoly money, inequitable markets and industrial pseudo-progress continue.. wherever farmers have not organised to decide differently. No amount of advocacy can save them or their land if they do not themselves organise to choose freely their method of production & distribution.

Agro-ecology, as a coherent political concept, is a much-loved basis for the Food Sovereignty movement. As a scientific term, it can be understood simply as a vital extension of agronomy but, formulated as an ideology, it is sometimes gratuitously advertised as a selling point in the market place, using what is a broad ethical concept as if it were a production method, and can cause confusion. Indeed, its adepts denigrate third-party certification of practices as guilty by association with the neo-colonial export trade. However, the techniques implied by the principles of Agro-ecology are nowhere codified as technical criteria by which a farmer’s method could be objectively verified. By contrast, the low-cost Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) organised locally by farmers for local markets only, requiring beneficial collective effort, is sometimes unfairly disadvantaged by artificial controversy sparked by farmers proclaiming their political concept as superior. The confusion can even cover unfair price competition. No amount of lofty political ideals can justify disrespect for farmers who have organised their own PGS as objective guarantee of their freely chosen production method. This choice is itself an unmistakably practical sign of their emancipation as a class.