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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Organic Food Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 3687 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Organic Food is about the food are planted and reared without any conventional non-organic pesticides, growth hormones, chemical repining, food irradiation, and genetic modifies, ingredient and no hydrogenated fats, which are directly related to increase the percentage of disease. Organic food contains only seven most innocuous natural additives in seven thousand of artificial additive. Organic food has not been associated with any case of food poisoning in any year since the Centre for disease control & Prevention record began. (RENEE ELLIOTT)

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Recently, Organic food is attracting consumer because of the non-chemical treated, fresh, and minimally processed food. Most of the organic produce has to buy from the farmer or the grower, but now organic product is displayed in most of the supermarket and many of the smaller super market have a few dedicated shelves for popular organic item, such as organic fruit and vegetable, raw cane sugar, soy sauce, raisin, stick noodles, rice, and also organic infant formula which is milk powder for the baby.

Due with the demand for organic food is increasing, there are many organic food are import from other countries. However, consumer is hard to understand or unsure the safety of the import organic food, so the product labeling which is been certified organic and the certified organic is the only way that consumer can know that the processed of product is organic. For the different country have different organic certificate and rule system to process the product, international Federal of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) is the worldwide organization for the organic movement and certificate system, uniting more than 750 member organization in 116 countries, is laying the groundwork for the further development of organic agriculture and market worldwide, to bring together the key player from all over the planet to facilitate trade in organic market.

Interesting in organic food and farming in high partly due to the fact that people are better informed about nutrition, more concerned about the environment and more cautious about the short term and long term effect of diet on health than any time in past. Households knowledge about alternative agriculture are more likely to purchase organic produce (Govindasamy and Italia, 1990) and those concerned about the environment are more likely to purchase organic apples (Loureiro et al., 2001). Those two enjoy trying new product are more likely to purchase organic produce (Govindasamy and Italia, 1990). Therefore, organic market and organic farming have become a new trend around the world.

Organic Farming

The organic farming is to supply the trend that demand from the consumer of high quality, high nutrition value, and the safety product. And due with this market, organic farmer have to follow the system that had been develop. And organic farming is not for growing the organic product and also a system for the agro-ecosystem health; government has introduced better farming practices to reduce the use of the chemical and harmful substances.

What is organic farming? (CAC 2001)

Organic agriculture is based on holistic production management systems which promote and enhance agro-ecosystem health, including bio-diversity, biological cycles, and soil biological to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, culture, biological and mechanical methods, as opposed to synthetic materials, to fulfill any special function within the system. An organic production system is designed to:

Enhance biological diversity within the whole system

Increase soil biological activity

Maintain long-term soil fertility

Recycle waste of plant and animal origin in order to return nutrient to the land, thus minimizing the use of non-renewable resource

Rely on renewable resources in locally organized agriculture system

Promote the healthy use soil, water and air well as minimizing all form of pollution that may result from agricultural practices

Handle agricultural product with emphasis on careful processing method on order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the product at all stages

Become establish on any existing farm through a period of conversion, the appropriate length of which is determined by site-specific factor such as the history of the land and the type of crops and livestock to be produced.

Table 1.1 Organic Farming

[Source: Stephan, D. Anna, M.H Raffaele, Z., (2004) Organic Farming: policies and Prospects]

1.2.1 The advantage of Organic farming

The organic farming using a environmentally friendly method of farming that allow the cultivation of crops and rearing of livestock without damage to the farm as an ecosystem, including effects on soil, water supplies, biodiversity, or other surrounding natural resources. Besides that, organic farming is an ecological production management system to promote and enhance biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and hence improves the health and resilience of farming system. It is based on preventing and reducing use of off-farm inputs on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. From there, it can help to balance productive farming activities are completely free of residues but all the method are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water.

In organic farming, that is number of methods are used to maintain soil fertility. Crop rotation, which ensures the crop, does not deplete the soil of the nutrients that it uses most and cover crops to protect against soil erosion. The planting of special crops know as “green manures” that are plowed back into the soil to enrich it and the addition of aged animal manures and plant wastes, also known as compost too the soil (Worthington, 2001).

Figure1: Mean percent addition mineral content in organic compare to convention

Organic farming is not only to produce the plant and livestock to the consumer in the same time, organic farmer is also using a method to protect the environment to reduce the pollution from the other industry. The fertility management practice is the addition of organic matter to the soil from the plant and animal wastes, to preserve the soil structure and provide food for soil microorganisms. With these methods, soil nutrients are released slowly over time.

1.2.2 Disadvantage of Organic farming

Organic farming has a good system on plating and livestock, and come with many benefit but still suffer with few problem:

The UN Environment program conducted a study and survey on organic farming in 2008, which concluded that farming by organic methods gives small yields when compare to conventional farming methods.

Danish Environment Protection Agency conducted a research and concluded that the organic farms which produce potatoes, seed grass and sugar beet are barely producing half of the total output produced by conventional farming, in the same area.

Organic agriculture is hardly contributing to addressing the issue of global climate change. It does reduce CO2 emission to a certain extent, but there is no dramatic contribution.

Based on the problem, we can understand that conventional farming which is non-organic farming is processed with the chemical fertilizer the other growth hormones, which is to give the plant or livestock growth rapidly and stronger therefore the grower can get more rotation on harvesting and make sure the plant and rear are “good looking”. And in the same time the conventional farming is damaging the environment with the chemical and those growth hormones.

1.3 Non-organic farming

Non-organic farming can be defined as conventional farming, and conventional farming is different with organic farming as we mention before. The processed of the Conventional farming is an indirectly way to pollution environment with the chemical fertilizer or the growth hormone. In America alone, the agriculture industry estimated to use over 800 million pounds of conventional pesticides each year, and globally over 160 million tons of conventional fertilizer each year. These cause the most harm to the environment (Om Organic, 2010). The chemical runoff from the fields has contamination surface and ground water, damage fisheries, and destroy freshwater ecosystem. It has also created growing “dead zone” in parts of oceans close to river mouth that drain agriculture regions.

Conventional farming process on chemically grown food, there has been a profound upward trend in the incident of diseases associated with exposure to toxic chemical in in deutries societies. Organic food cantains fewer residues of pesticides used in conventional agriculture, so buying organic is one way to reduce the chance that your food contains these pesticides (Sir John, 2003).

Figure2: The cancer incidence rates in New South Wales

The Figure 2 shown that data on the number of new cancer cases in New South Wales, Australia has been collected by the New South Wales Central Cancer Registry. That between 1972 and 2004 the incidence of new cancer cases per year has risen from 323 to 488 per 100,000 people. This is an increase of over 50% in just 32 years.

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Women with breast cancer are five to nine times are likely to have pesticides residues in their blood than those who do not. 18 previous studies have shown that those with occupational exposure to pesticides have higher rates of cancer. 19 – 21 the apparent link between hormone dependent cancer, such are those of the breast and prostate, may be via endocrine disrupting chemicals compounds that artificially affect the hormone system such as 2.4D and Atrazine. The UK main scientific organization recommends that human exposure to EDCs (especially during pregnancy) should be minimized on grounds of prudence (The Royal Society)

In addition, there are 500 chemicals that are routinely used in conventional farming but only 4 are permitted in organic farming. For example, Cox’s apples can be sprayed up to 16 times with 36 different pesticides and many other these are hard to remove even if the fruit is washed (Soil Association UK, 2003)

1.4 Benefit for Organic Food

Organic food is process by a natural and safety system and it bring extra more nutrition to consumer, organic product is not bring the benefit for the consumer only and also come with the protection on the environment as well:

1.4.1 Organic product meets stringent standards

All organic animals are only fed with 100% pure vegetarian food and the diet should be solvent free. And also the organic meats are free from genetically modified organisms (GMO), so the organic produce is safe for consumption and can help to improve health (Spevack, 2002).

Organic certificate is the public assurance that products have been grown and handle according to strict procedures without persistent toxic chemical inputs. When you see that a product has been Certified Organic by QAI (Quality Assurance International), you can rest assured that the product, its ingredients and the manufacturer have gone through a thorough investigation (Nutiva, 2009)

1.4.3 Taste better and truer Flavor

The research measured the effect of an organic had been done by Washington State University in Pullman, a conventional and an integrated apple production system on the sustainability indicators of horticultural performance, soil quality, orchard profitability, environmental quality and energy efficiency. Taste was measured three ways. Mechanical analysis on fruit firmness at harvest and after six months storage was higher for organic that is two competitors. The ration of sugar content to acidity, an indication of sweetness, was higher among organic apples as well. These results were confirmed by the consumer taste tests (Natural Food Merchandiser, 2001). Plus the new research verifies that some organic produce is often lower in nitrates and higher in antioxidants than conventional food.

1.4.4 Nutrition and health

Organic food comprises more nutritional benefit which compare with non-organic food. For instant, organic foods have higher level of vitamin C and essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, chromium and others. Organic vegetable also contain higher levels (between 10% and 50%) of secondary nutrients such as antioxidants which help to mop up harmful free radicals implicated in cancer (Heaton, 2001). In a review of 41 studies from around the world, organic crops were shown to have statistically significant higher level of vitamin C, Magnesium, Iron and Phosphorus.

Figure 3: Mean percent different for four nutrients in five frequently studied vegetable (Worthington, 2001)

For example, vitamin C is 17.0% more abundant in organic lettuce (conventional 100%, organic 117%)

The result for nitrates and protein quality and quantity agreed with the German review, which found a lower nitrate content in organic vegetable in nearly all cases, and less protein but higher quality protein in organic cereal grains. In addition, the results for vitamin C are similar to those of the German review. The German report that half of the time the vitamin C content of organic and conventional crop was the same, and the other half of the time the vitamin C content was higher in the organic crop. Theses finding are consistent with higher average vitamin C content in the organic crop as found in this analysis (Worthington, 2001)

Worldwide Certification System – International federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), Germany

International Federation of organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), based in Germany, but active worldwide and it is the worldwide umbrella organization of the organic movement. Two international frameworks exist for certification bodies and standard-setting organization for organic product: the IFOAM Basic Standards (IBS), which were developed in the 1980s, and the Global Codex Alimentations standards, for which development began in 1999. IFOAM is an international federation that currently unites 771 member organizations in 108 member countries, which focus on general purposes, recommendations, basic standards, and derogations (IFOAM, 2005).

IFOAM is committed to understand the concept of organic agriculture accommodates different organic practices depending on different local or regional conditions such as different based on ecological, climatic, culture, traditional, technical, or culture nature. One part of IFOAM mission is leading, uniting and equivalency of organic movement in its full diversity. In addition, to facilities international equivalency of organic quality claim so that certificates issues by certifiers in one part of the world are immediately accepted in other part of the world, IFOAM established an accreditation program in 1992, which is managed by the International Organic Accreditations Service (IOAS). IFOAM goal is the worldwide adoption of ecological, socially and economical sound system that are based on the Principles of Organic Agriculture.

IFOAM Basic Standard (IBS) are basic of the organic movement which adopted democratically and international. These standards should not be seen as a final statement, but rather as a work in progress to contribute to the continued development and adoption of organic practice throughout the world. The IBS are structure as “standards for standard”. IFOAM provide a framework for certification bodies and standard-setting organization worldwide to develop their own more detailed certification standards which take into account specific local conditions. On the other hand, the Codex Alimentations standard “provide and international agree framework for organic food moving international trade. Where a disagreement may occur between countries about the equivalence of organic food, the codex guidelines can be used as a reference in trade disputes at the WTO level” (IFOAM, 2004). For a few years, however, the codex guidelines did not cover animal husbandry, livestock standard were approved in 2001 each country is responsible for interpreting and implementing the rules, as well as enforcement, monitoring and inspection(Kilcher et al., 2004)

All of the IFOAM Basic Standard are structuring based on variety general principle which are aids in maintain the quality ecosystem and nature conversation.

Malaysia – National Standards and Scheme of Organic Malaysia (SOM)

As the development of organic farming is rapidly, the standard and certifications of farming system become more important. There are two standard for organic in Malaysia that one is initiative by government.

In fact, Malaysia is implementing its certification program in year 2004 which initiated by the private agency – Organic Alliance Malaysia (OAM). The OAM standards follow the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) basic standard and norm which can apply into Malaysia situation. The certification will focus on processor, re-packer, and retailers. This certification is envisaged to complement the Department of Agriculture (DOA) certification program – Sijil Organik Malaysia or also known as Scheme Organic Malaysia (SOM). This scheme was official launched on 9 December 2003 by the Minister of Agriculture.

Two committees namely the steering committee and the certification committee have been established to oversee the implementation of this certification program, Scheme Organic Malaysia. While the steering committee is responsible for policy and program development, the decision to certify the applicant farm as organic or not lies with the certification committee. The Department of Agriculture is mandated by the Ministry of Agriculture to act as the certification body for this SOM program. Inspection officer of the certification body carry out on-site visit to verify that the farm activities conform with the standard of the certification program and prepares report which form the basis for the certification decision.

Malaysia Standard 1529:2001 “The Production, Processing, Labeling and Marketing of Plant-Based Organically Produced Foods” is another standard which publish by Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM). It is designed to achieve its purposed through a competent, independent and transparent inspection and certification system for the entire chain of custody of the organic product. It is just guidelines and as foundation for develops DOA standard. Besides, it is does not deal with certification like application and inspection process, use of organic mark, violation handing, but all these processes are covered in detail by SOM.

European Countries – National Standards and KRAV, Sweden

In most Europe countries, private certifiers that have their own standards are legally obligated to certify producers to the EU Regulation if requested. In this case, the producer can use the EU label and member state label but not the private label of the certifier (Rundgren, 2002). In some countries, only one logos, and brands (Dabbert et al., 2004). Legally, if a producer or processor is certified by one of the EU-approved certification entities, certification should be valid in all EU member state.

Some certification entities, insists on stricter standard than those of the EU legislation, which means that if the “brand” of the stricter certifier is strong in the marketplace, the producer or processor may find their customer insisting on that certifier’s certification. Therefore, EU certification bodies have developed a tiered structure, where by not all EU certificates are acceptable to all certification bodies (Organic Trade Services, 2004).

Sweden is one of the biggest countries in Europe and the climate is favorable for farming, with cold winters that inhibit infestations of many crops pests. In 1995 Sweden became an EU member and consequently part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). With EU member ship in 1995, the Swedish Parliament introduced a new environmental program with various sub goals, such as support for preservation of landscapes and nature with particular cultural and environmental value, a general support for leys land and pasturage, and support for organic farming.

Two private sector bodies are recognized by the government authorities to carry out inspection and certification that are KRAV and Svenska Demeterforbundet. The KRAV standards includes standard for crop and animal production, processing, textiles, retailing, catering, and importing. The KRAV label has a very strong position on the marker for organic food in Sweden, which is unusual for a private certification body. KRAV also works closely with Grolink AB, which specializers in consultancy work in developing countries, such as in establishing certifying organizations.

KRAV is organized as an incorporated association with, at present, 26 members. They represent farmer, processors, trade and also consumer, environmental and animal welfare interests. KRAV is an active member active member of IFOAM and the KRAV standard is follow IFOAM basic standard. It takes an active part in developing the IFOAM basic standard and criteria. Besides, since Sweden is a member of the EU, this regulation is compulsory simply and regulates with the EU core standards (Council Regulation EEC 2092/91 on organic production of agriculture product and indications referring thereto on agriculture product and foodstuffs). Therefore, KRAV also work to influence the EU organic production legislation. (KRAV, 2000)


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