International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
The humble beginnings of IFOAM trace back to a meeting in Versailles, France in 1972. Roland Chevriot of Nature et Progrès envisioned the need for Organic Agriculture movements to coordinate their actions and to enable scientific and experimental data on organic to cross borders. In order to realize this vision, he invited organic pioneers including Lady Eve Balfour, founder of the UK Soil Association, Kjell Arman from the Swedish Biodynamic Association and Jerome Goldstein from the Rodale Institute to join him in Versailles to set the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in motion.
Forty years later, IFOAM has evolved into a global association with about 800 Affiliates in 120 countries. Once seen as a fringe movement shunning modern day science and subject to criticism from farmers and researchers, the organic movement has pioneered methods that are now widely welcomed as a viable and credible alternative to present day industrial farming.
They actively work with United Nations organizations such as FAO, IFAD and UNFCCC. They remain committed to leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity.
In October of 2015, IFOAM submitted the following public comment to the NOSB:
IFOAM – Organics International Public Comment to NOSB Meeting October, 2015
We are aware that the new Hydroponics & Aquaponics Task Force will soon take up its work to advise the NOSB on the alignment of these systems with the USDA organic regulations. We are also aware that currently the NOP is not disallowing USDA accredited organic certifiers to certifysoil-less hydroponic production systems as organic, despite indications against it in 7 CFR Part 205, the NOSB recommendation of January 23, 2010 that such systems do not align with the definition and principles of organic agriculture, and the organic regulations of most other countries globally, which expressly prohibit hydroponic production systems based on inert media and soluble nutrients.
Our longstanding position on organic production is that terrestrial crops must be grown in soil. We write in full support of the NOSB recommendation, which is reproduced at the end of this comment. We ask the NOSB and NOP to instruct the new task force that this NOSB recommendation should be the basis for its deliberation and further recommendations. We also ask the NOP to now base its oversight of accredited certification bodies on this NOSB recommendation.
FORMAL RECOMMENDATION BY THE NATIONAL ORGANIC STANDARDS BOARD (NOSB) TO THE NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM (NOP) January 23, 2010
Production Standards for Terrestrial Plants in Containers and Enclosures
The organic farming method derives its name from the practice of maintaining or improving the organic matter (carbon containing) content of farm soil through various methods and practices. The reason this is the central theme and foundation of organic farming is not inherent to the organic matter itself, but is based on the importance of the organic matter to the living organisms that inhabit soils, particularly for its positive influence on proliferation of diverse populations of organisms that interact in a beneficial way with plant roots. These microscopic organisms, found in abundance in well maintained soils, interact in a symbiotic manner with plant roots, producing the effect of strengthening the plant to be able to better resist or avoid insect, disease and nematode attack, as well as assisting the plant in water and mineral uptake. The abundance of such organisms in healthy, organically maintained soils form a biological network, an amazing and diverse ecology that is ‘the secret’, the foundation of the success of organic farming accomplished without the need for synthetic insecticides, nematicides, fumigants, etc. In practice, the organic farmer is not just a tiller of the soil, but a steward of the soil ecology on the farm, hence some of the alternate names for this realm of production, such as ecological or biodynamic farming.
Observing the framework of organic farming based on its foundation of sound management of soil biology and ecology, it becomes clear that systems of crop production that eliminate soil from the system, such as hydroponics or aeroponics, can not be considered as examples of accept able organic farming practices. Hydroponics, the production of plants in nutrient rich solutions or moist inert material, or aeroponics, a variation in which plant roots are suspended in air and continually misted with nutrient solution, have their place in production agriculture, but certainly cannot be classified as certified organic growing methods due to their exclusion of the soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems and USDA/NOP regulations governing them.