Organic is due for a re-haul, according to a recent discussion paper released by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) during the International Organic Exposition held in Goesan, Korea in October. The report, Organic 3.0: For Truly Sustainable Farming and Consumption, proposes the worldwide launch of a new phase of the organic movement.
From the visionary phase of organic agriculture in the early 20th century (termed Organic 1.0) to the acceptance of industry regulation and certification from the 1970s to the present (Organic 2.0), the movement towards sustainable food systems has enjoyed growth and success. By 2015, 82 countries had implemented regulations for organic food systems. By 2013, the global market for organic food was valued at US$72 billion.
Despite these accomplishments, however, organic agriculture currently represents less than 1 percent of global land and food production. The IFOAM report argues that the world must now enter into a new organic paradigm, referred to as Organic 3.0, which would address and resolve shortfalls of the current movement. The ultimate goal of Organic 3.0 is to propel organic agriculture out of its current “niche” role and towards a mainstream acceptance of organic practices, along every node of the supply chain. Organic 3.0 proposes a global effort “positioning organic as a modern, innovative system which puts the results and impacts of farming in the foreground.”
The report repeatedly emphasizes the idea of “true sustainability,” admitting that current organic systems struggle to address issues like fair pricing, new farming technologies, and the important role of smallholder, non-certified farmers.
Organic 3.0 sets out six key features with associated operational objectives to help the vision of Organic 3.0 move toward action:
1. A culture of innovation
2. Continuous improvement towards best practice
3. Diverse ways to ensure transparent integrity
4. Inclusive of wider sustainability interests
5. Holistic empowerment from farm to final consumer
6. True value and fair pricing
The IFOAM report proposes to create this shift by “repositioning organic as a process.” In other words, organic must reach further than the certified organic label on a bag of grocery store carrots. Organic 3.0 aims to address inherent, but hard-to-quantify issues of fair labor practices, transparency of value chains, price distortion, gender equity, appropriate technologies and ecologically-sound stewardship practices.
The ideas presented in the IFOAM report, intended to “inspire and fuel the debate about the future of organic agriculture,” will be reviewed, amended, and formed into proposals to be approved by a virtual assembly of organic movement leaders in late 2016.