New research from Greece suggests that many farmers are following organic farming rules and guidelines, but fail to provide the market with organically labelled goods.
The study, published in Land Use Policy , found that products from just one third of organically managed areas are labelled as organic. By failing to label products as organic, the researchers warn that farmers are hindering the widespread acceptance and use of organic products, and also may be adding financial burden to themselves.
Led by researchers from the Aristotle University, in conjunction with Greek certification body DIO the team noted that there are two main aims of organic farming: the fist being the protection of the environment through management practices that do not have the adverse effects of conventional practices, while the second is to benefit the health of consumers, by the provision of organic products.
"While farmers follow the rules of organic management, thus achieving the first aim, products from just one third of organically managed areas are labelled, thus failing the second aim," said the team.
"However, considering that organic farming is financed, is it enough that at least the environment is protected, despite the shortfall to the consumer?" the researchers questioned - explaining that while many organically labelled products are imported to cover the country's demand for organic produce, unlabelled Greek organic products are sold as conventional.
"As the majority of EU Member States offer per area payments for the conversion and/or maintenance of organic land, the “Bio without Bio”, i.e., organic farming – without organic products case of Greece, is probably not an exception," suggested the researchers.
The Greek research team noted explained that financial support to farmers is calculated based on the amount of land being organically cultivated, rather than the overall performance of organic farms.
"This study highlights the importance of establishing a monitoring procedure that evaluates the performance of organic farming systems, including the outcome of labelled organic products," they said.
"Such action would provide information that would facilitate the necessary changes to ensure that financial allocations cover the true scope of organic agriculture from production to purchase," they argued.
"This procedure should evaluate the policy implementation against well-defined targets at a regional level, in parallel to the amount of organic area and the number of organic farmers, which is already conducted in many countries worldwide."
Source: Land Use Policy
Volume 32 , Pages 324–328, doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2012.11.008
"Organic farming without organic products"
Authors: Charissis Argyropoulos, Maria A. Tsiafouli, Stefanos P. Sgardelis, John D. Pantis