• Can Burak Sofyalioglu

What is Organic Farming?

In this article, we will try to examine what organic agriculture is, how the conditions required for emergence as a sector, and organic agriculture regulations and organizations from a global perspective.


Organic Agriculture is a production system for increasing organism activities and soil fertility in the soil, for the purpose of protecting ecological balance and biodiversity, preventing the damage of cyclical natural resources and producing sustainable healthy foods; limiting or eliminating the use of synthetic chemical production inputs in production; instead, crop rotation, crop residues, animal manure, green manure and non-agricultural organic wastes are used; biological control methods are used in disease, pest and weed control; refuses to use genetically modified organisms.


Although organic agriculture has been an issue in the world agenda for the last 20 years, it is actually one of the oldest agricultural activities used until 60-80 years ago. Even though the agricultural production that our ancestors used to carry out in the absence of petroleum-based inorganic fertilizers and pesticides years ago, could not be defined as organic agriculture due to today's certification requirements, we can say that it is the prototype of agriculture that is the subject of our article.

In order to interpret the development and spread of the organic agriculture-production industry, we need to examine the historical effects of the periodic developments that have revolutionary effects on agriculture.

As a result of the chemistry technology developed together with the war industry during the World War II, synthetic fertilizer-drug substances were used to increase productivity in the agricultural sector. For example, nitrogen compound Ammonium Nitrate, which is the raw material of explosives used during war, was introduced as nitrogen fertilizer in post-war agricultural areas. Again, organophosphates used as nerve gas during the war took their place in agricultural activities as a very powerful insecticide after the war. These synthetic-chemical substances, which have started to be used, have led to a serious increase in the volume of agricultural production, and have paved the way for future ecosystem problems and health problems for living beings.

Chemical drugs used excessively and unconsciously leave residues in the soil and plants. These residues adversely affect the development of the plant, as well as they are dangerous for human and animal lives that leak into the groundwater and feed on it.

In another aspect, along with the progress in genetic science, the inevitable goal of maximizing capitalist economic order has led to the beginning of changing the genetic structure of seeds in line with many plans such as increasing productivity, providing product diversity, creating products with visual commercial value, and had a serious catalyst effect on the negative results mentioned above.

In the following process, the damage of the negative results we have mentioned along with the scientific developments on the ecosystem and human health has been better understood. With the efforts of academia and non-governmental organizations, the importance given to natural-organic agriculture has increased.

 Knowing the fact that there are economic reasons behind every emerging sector, it is necessary to examine the sector within this framework. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, as the income and education level of the middle and upper classes increased, the demand of the masses for healthy foods increased. We can say that the potential surplus value to be born by meeting this demand is the main factor in the emergence of the organic agriculture-food sector.


Today, organic agriculture production and standards are prescribed by laws and regulations in many countries. Most of these standards have been specified by IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements). IFOAM was founded in 1972 by 5 founding organizations from 3 continents and is now an umbrella organization that manages 750 member organizations in 108 countries. They declare their missions as follows:

"Organic agriculture is a production system that ensures the maintenance of the soil’s, ecosystem’s and people’s health. The ecological process against the use of inputs that cause adverse effects is based on biodiversity and the cycle adapted to regional conditions. The goal of organic farming is to benefit from the environment we share by combining tradition, innovation and science, and to provide a good life for all those involved in life with fair relations. ”

Apart from its extensive activities, IFOAM also provides organic farming standards and organic accreditation services.

The first wide-scale regulation on organic farming in the world was published by the European Union in 1991. Later, many changes were made and in 1999, the section on animal products was added to the relevant regulation of the EU. Organic agriculture standards, Bio Suisse prepared by Switzerland and prepared by FAO in 1999,  Codex Alimentarius, called NOP in the USA, JAS in Japan, especially affected global market movements all over the world.

The legal framework of organic farming has been determined with "Regulation on Principles and Implementation of Organic Agriculture”” which came into force in Turkey in 2002 and finalized in 2010, and “Organic Agriculture Law” No. 5262 published in 2004. Countries that do not have their own organic agriculture standards use the standards of other countries and regions in their domestic markets.


In order for farmers and food producers to benefit from organic agriculture methods, consumers must trust that organic production rules are followed. In order to provide this trust to the consumer, standard establishing and implementing organizations, which are valid in the regions and countries, issue regulations and ensure that this process is carried out under the supervision of authorized intermediary institutions.

Manufacturers, distributors and marketers of organic products must be registered with local control agencies to be able to market their food organically. After being examined and checked, a certificate will be issued confirming that its products meet organic standards. All operators are checked at least once a year to ensure they continue to follow the rules. Imported organic foods are also subject to control procedures to ensure that they are produced and shipped in accordance with organic principles.


According to the research results of Ecoiva, the organic food trade volume on a global scale reached 97 billion Euros in 2017. America comes first with 40 billion Euros, followed by Germany with 10 billion Euros, France with 7.9 billion Euros and China with 7.6 billion Euros. Turkey's organic food trade in the same year was around 700 million euros.  

Organizations that manage organic farming standards in the world are working on new regulations to prevent possible unregulated and counterfeit organic production in order to determine the future of the industry. These possible arrangements will focus on increasing control and traceability and making it easier.


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