Organic farming promotes sustainability

A team of international experts, including IVM researcher Verena Seufert from VU Amsterdam, explain that organic farming is an important part of the solution for changing the current agricultural and food system. The research was published this week in the scientific online journal Nature Sustainability.

04/12/2019 | 4:05 PM

Sustainable Development Goals
There is broad consensus that the way food is produced and consumed urgently needs to change. Only then can global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty be addressed. However, the approach to achieving this is heavily contested. Is it more promising to make mainstream agriculture gradually more sustainable or to promote alternative systems like organic farming, where explicit account is taken of environmental impacts and animal welfare? According to the experts, both approaches can go hand-in-hand and mutually reinforce each other. This new perspective allows focusing policies on the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs)that have been adopted by all nations.

Save or doom the world
Verena Seufert: “Many people have heated debates about whether organic farming would save or doom the world. We argue, instead, that organic agriculture will do neither of these, but that it represents an important lever towards a more sustainable food system. We need a less polarized discussion about food. And we should all be able to agree that organic agriculture is neither an irrelevant niche nor a silver-bullet solution but that it can play an important role in getting our food system right”. 

In order to shift towards a more sustainable food system we should take advantage of all different kinds of farming approaches argue the authors. And they propose a coherent policy framework that would push the food system – including both conventional and organic farming systems – towards enhanced sustainability and towards the achievement of the SDGs.

Read-cube version (view only). 

Blog post summary of the paper by the first author. 

Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture for people and planet – for example at a farm in Nepal. Photo: © Helvetas

There are three webinars being organised to discuss the paper:

  1. Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 16.00-17.00h CEST, Speakers: Louise Luttikholt (Director, IFOAM), Hans Herren (Director, Millennium Institute), Million Bellay (Coordinator Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa AFSA).
  2. Thursday, 16 May2019, 14.00-15.00h CEST, Speakers: Bernhard Lehmann (Director, Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture), Neeraja Adidam (Joint Secretary Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture & farmers Welfare, India), Frank Eyhorn (Senior Advisor Sustainable Agriculture, Helvetas), Adrian Müller (Senior Researcher, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FiBL).
  3. Monday, 20 May 2019, 14.00-15.00h CEST, Speakers: Nic Lampkin (Senior Researcher, The Organic Research Centre, UK), Jürn Sanders (Senior Researcher, Thünen Institute of Farm Economics, Germany), Tassos Haniotis (Director of the Directorate ‘Strategy and Policy Analysis’, DG Agri EU-COM, tbc).
For more information please visit the website