Since 1999, the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold, according to research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C. Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land are Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Island nations; Europe; and Latin America.
Organic farming now is established in international standards, and almost 100 countries have implemented organic regulations. Definitions vary but, according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, organic agriculture is a production system that relies on ecological processes, such as waste recycling, rather than the use of synthetic inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
"Although organic agriculture often produces lower yields on land that has recently been farmed conventionally, it can outperform conventional practices--especially during droughts--when the land has been farmed organically for a longer time," notes report coauthor Laura Reynolds. a researcher with Worldwatch's Food and Agriculture Program. "Conventional agricultural practices often degrade the environment over both the long and short term through soil erosion, excessive water extraction, and biodiversity loss."
Organic farming has the potential to contribute to sustainable food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihoods in rural areas, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity. Sustainable practices associated with organic farming are relatively labor intensive. Organic agriculture uses up to 50% less fossil fuel energy than...