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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