Three years ago, UN member states adopted Agenda 2030, which consists of 17 global goals for sustainable development. In the work of achieving the global goals, the question of how we should use the earth will be central.
In this article, we highlight how organic farming contributes to 6 of the 17 goals.
# 3 - Health and Wellness
One way to promote health in humans, animals and nature is not to use synthetic pesticides. Organic farmers work to ensure that, among other things, a variety of crops, crop rotation and the benefit of useful animals help keep weeds and pests away. Organic farming uses modern machines, but also clears some weeds manually. They can also use agents such as soap, rapeseed oil and bacteria to get rid of aphids and other pests without extraneous pesticides.
Not only organic raw materials but also processed organic foods must be produced in the healthiest way possible. Therefore, only about 50 natural additives (for example salt, baking powder and malic acid) of the more than 300 E-numbers approved in the EU are allowed. This means, among other things, that organic food and drink do not have synthetic dyes, flavors and sweeteners, trans fats and flavor enhancers such as glutamate on the table of contents.
# 6 - Clean water
One of the biggest benefits of organic farming is that it promotes clean water. Organic farmers do not use any synthetic pesticides that can spread to lakes, seas and streams.
The Swedish environmental monitoring program finds residues of a number of different pesticides in our surface and groundwater every year. When the County Administrative Board in 2016 examined the groundwater sources where Skåne municipalities collect their drinking water, pesticides were found in 22 of 27 groundwater sources. In some cases, the levels were so high that the water was unusable as drinking water.
# 8 Decent working conditions and economic growth
Organic farming improves the working environment of farmers because they do not have to be exposed to synthetic pesticides. Do you choose organic and KRAV-marked, you thereby affect how others feel at work.
In addition to a better working environment for farmers, an increased transition to organic can stimulate job growth and profitability in Swedish agriculture. This is shown, among other things, by LRF's report Sweden as an eco-country - analysis of organic farming in Sweden. The report's conclusions are based on researchers Lars Jonasson's and Ulrik Lovang's calculations and data modeling.
# 12 - Sustainable consumption and production
Organic farming is based on a circular business model where the individual agriculture strives to be as self-sufficient in fertilizers and feed as possible instead of being dependent on energy-intensive inputs such as fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. This also brings with it a number of environmental benefits in the form of increased biodiversity, clean water and fertile and resilient soils.
An increased production of organic food enables more consumers to make sustainable food choices in stores and thereby contribute to both environmental and societal benefits.
# 13 - Fighting climate change
Organic farming is more resilient - resistant to climate change - because the soils have a higher soil content and greater species richness. Soils with a higher soil content have a better water holding capacity, which in turn means that they can withstand periods of drought better. The high proportion of perennial grassland in most organic farms is a measure that both increases the soil's soil content and constitutes an important carbon sink that reduces the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
By refraining from using fertilizers that are energy-intensive to produce and often require long transports, organic farms reduce greenhouse gas emissions (nitric oxide in particular).
# 15 - Ecosystems and biodiversity
The species richness of plants, bumblebees, bees and other important insects is up to 50 percent higher on organic farms according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology where researchers from EPOK / SLU and the University of Oxford analyzed studies from the past 30 years. More varied cultivation and the non-use of synthetic pesticides are measures in organic farming that benefit the diversity of birds, frogs and more on and around the arable land and also organisms in the soil that are of great importance for the so-called ecosystem services. In this way, organic farming is an important tool in the work of preserving biological diversity and strengthening the resilience of agriculture.
Sources and further reading:
- The County Administrative Board Skåne: Pesticides in Skåne groundwater 2016
- IFOAM Organics International: How Organic Agriculture Helps Mitigate Climate Change
- EPOK - SLU: Organic farming promotes biodiversity
- EPOK - SLU: Organic farming can cope better with drought
- EPOK - SLU: Organic production with reduced climate impact