The pioneers of the sustainable farming movement are mourning what they call the downfall of the organic program, following a Wednesday [Nov. 1] night vote by a group of government farming advisers that could determine the future of the $50 billion organic industry.
At issue was whether a booming generation of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic farms — which grow plants in nutrients without using soil, frequently indoors — could continue to sell their produce under the “organic” label.
In a series of narrow votes, an advisory board to the U.S. Department of Agriculture voted to allow the majority of these operators to remain a part of the organic program, dealing a blow to the movement’s early leaders.
Organic pioneers have argued that including hydroponic produce under the label has undermined the integrity of the program they fought decades to establish, and at a time when it is already under intense scrutiny. Some have said they will consider leaving the USDA-regulated program entirely.
Their advocates have argued that soilless farming is consistent with the goals of the organic program: It utilizes organic fertilizers and cuts down on pesticide and water use — often to levels much lower than those on land-based organic operations.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Pioneers of organic farming are threatening to leave the program they helped create