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Revisiting Organic Farming’s Impact in Decreasing Health Risks
Health is one of the four principles of Organic Agriculture, and the uncontrollable use of chemicals are significantly contributing to the declining health of our farmers. Aged between 48-57, they are more susceptible to health risks and this is one of the pressing concern of why there is a great need for a shift from conventional to an organic production system. “Our purpose was to lessen the number of farmers who were using commercial fertilizers and pesticides, because these are what's causing our health problems.” said Benjamin Maggay to an interview made by Rappler. The chronic exposure of farmers to some toxic chemicals such as Alkyl phenols, Chlorobenzenes, Rotenone etc. are posing great dangers to their health and may even yield greater complications targetting the respiratory and central nervous system.
The Cervantes town in Ilocos Sur are just one example of the municipalities that are integrating their strategy geared towards an agricultural sustainable development and a better health program for their residents that are active in farming. Interested farm and individual groups were given capacity building trainings and seminars and while they had been more exposed to organic farming sites and as their inclination grew further, some interventions were made to radically aid these farmers to pursue an organic system of food production through a starting budget sponsored by some stakeholders and a distribution of organic vegetable seeds by various implementing agencies.
Through collaborative efforts made by government agencies and programs such as the National Organic Agriculture Board, National Organic Agriculture Program, Agricultural Training Institute, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards and others, wide implementation of the Organic Agriculture Act (RA 10068) are reaching a commendable heights by the increasing number of farmers going into organic practices and the increasing number of farm enterprises that are being certified as organic. As concerns for health become paramount not only to the farmers but as well as to the consumers, more farmers are becoming inclined to make a change in their system of production while adding more values to their produce and a significant growth to their income.
As organic produce are more nutritious and are less likely exposed to harmful chemicals, the consumers in the end had the most benefit while the producers are also perceived as gaining much more than they do in a conventional farming set up. Research has indicated that children whose parents made a shift to an organic diet reduced their exposure to organophosphates which includes the common and toxic malathion and chlorpyrifos and one study had compared the urine concentrations of organophosphorous pesticides and their metabolites in children subjected to conventional vs. organic diet and found that their diet was basically the route for major exposure (Beyond Pesticides).
Moreover, the health of the environment as sustained through organic agriculture is seen as the key principle to decrease if not totally eradicate the negative effects of chemicals in the long run. While the damage has been done, such effects might still be alleviated by sustainable practices aligned with the other principles underlying organic agriculture. Truly, the importance of organic industry in improving the quality of life, rural development, environmental protection and social justice are just a few of the many manifestations of a wider sense of development.
Camille Cruz, Kaya Natin! Movement. Retrieved from: https://www.rappler.com/nation/200710-organic-farming-less-health-risks-cervantes-ilocos-sur-benjamin-maggay
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On the Principle of Care: Why Grow Organic?
We all know the endearing benefits of growing organic foods. Not only does it sustain the natural environmental cycles, it ensures a more nutritious and a safe produce for consumption. Through the years, the shift in producing organic foods are being encouraged through various promotional activities by concerned agencies and programs such as the Department of Agrirculture’s National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) and others. The advocacy of promoting the well being not only of humans but as well as the enviroment is reaching a commendable height through an increasing number of organic practitioners and arable lands being converted to organic use. But what makes the practices of Organic Agriculture exceptional is the way it ensures a sustainable use of resources that makes it available for the next generation.
The International Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM)’s definition of the Principle of Care states that Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. As an organic farming set up is perceived as a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external conditions, practioners are expected to align their activities on what can be naturally found in the environment, the more a certain practice mimics a naturally occuring cycle (nutrient cycle, nitrogen cycle etc.) the better. One of the objectives of Organic Agriculture is to achieve an enhanced and efficient productivity without risk or any perilous impact to the environment and well being. With just the right technologies and methods proved to yield ideal results and knowing full well that ecosystems and agriculture should work hand in hand, care must be of great consideration.
IFOAM further stated that precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management development and technology choices in Organic Agriculture and thus largely impacts the food production industry that safeguard a healthy, safe and ecologically sound practices. Moreover, it should also prevent significant risks through an adoption of appropriate technologies while rejecting unpredictable ones such as genetic engineering which may pose an even greater environmental threat. As continuous efforts are being made to strengthen the implementation of Organic Agriculture in the country, along with constant participation, the drive for a real progress is just as attainable as the fruit of a seed sown in just the right time and care.
Concerns for environment and nature, livestock welfare, and food quality are thus essential elements of the philosophy behind organic farming.