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What does “organic” mean?

Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system which originated early in the 20th Century in reaction to rapidly changing farming practices. Organic agriculture continues to be developed by various Organic Agriculture organizations today. It relies on fertilizers of organic origin such as compost, manure, green manure, and bone meal and places emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation, companion planting. Biological pest control, mixed cropping and the fostering of insect predators are encouraged.

Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on sustainable techniques to enhance the natural fertility of a farm, including crop rotation, companion planting, biological pest control, and naturally-sourced fertilizers such as compost, manure, green manure, and bone meal. Pest-control measures such as mixed crops and fostering natural insect predators, as well as naturally-sourced pesticides such as pyrethrin, are employed, while it excludes or strictly limits the use of synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, antibiotic use in livestock, genetically modified organisms; human sewage sludge, and nonmaterial. The agricultural approach emphasizes sustainability, openness, independence, health, and safety.

Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972. The USDA definition as of April 1995 is:

 “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”