Organic Farming and Food Assertions in the UK

Background and methodology 
Organic agriculture has developed rapidly in the European Community. Organic farming owes its origins in part to the development of biodynamic farming by Steiner in terms of self-sufficiency of small farms, a belief in the health of soil producing healthy plants and healthy people and the rejection of the use of any chemicals like Steiner by Balfour. The situation has led to claims about organic agriculture, which is the subject of this article. The three primary points are 1) that organic food is healthier because it does not contain synthetic pesticide traces 2) that the soil structure on organic farms is much better leading to less pollution from nitrates and is healthier for the crop plant and 3) that environmentally organic is better than the other forms and is chemical free. The purpose of the article was to examine these notions critically dealing with each of individual claim made for organic agriculture.

The article concludes that there is no basis for the assertions of superiority of organic farming once management is taken into account and that organic farming is simply another form of farming with its own problems. In the UK at least, when problems with agriculture emerge, they usually hinge around poor management not the mode of agriculture.

Trewavas, A. (2004). A critical assessment of organic farming-and-food assertions with particular respect to the UK and the potential environmental benefits of no-till agriculture. Crop Protection 23:757-781.