In this article, I will be giving more details on organic farming. These can serve as an introduction for a farmer who is considering a switch to organic farming.

The market for organic produce is growing quickly. A lot of countries in Europe are now trending toward organic farming. The U.S. is still resisting the shift to organic farming due largely to the presence of big corporations like Monsanto, for example, that are manufacturing and selling insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. In addition, some crops such as corn are subsidized. That means the government controls the market for all corn produced. This is an incentive for farmers to devote large swaths of land to corn and crop-dust insecticides using airplanes and other large machinery.

Japan is switching to organic farming and higher consumption of organic produce. A cooperative there is buying organic bananas from the Philippines.

 

Organic farms for stem cell production

There are large greenhouses or factories for the production of yeast (used in the production of hepatitis B vaccine) and also of bacteria for use in the production of coenzyme Q10. The advent of plant stem cells for use in stem cell therapy ushers is a new market for organic produce.


What is inspection?

Inspection is on-site visitation to verify that the performance of the farmer or operation is in  compliance with specific standards. Therefore, we can analyze the production. Production can also be processing. Verification is done to see if the standards are followed in at the field level. Inspection requires complete documentation.

The farmer says: “Okay, that is my farm. This is what I am doing. These are my crops. These are the manures I buy. These are the pesticides I use. These are the measurements I take in the prevention of pests and diseases, for increasing the soil fertility.”

The farmer must then make a full map of the area in such a way that the inspector can identify his field and the neighbors. The documentation is very important. After a site inspection of processing, farm buildings, and so forth,t  the report must be transferred from the inspector to the certifier. So there is an inspection first and next the certification.

Certification is the procedure which aims to guarantee the fulfillment of label regulations or of standards, like the European Union regulation. In the future, the Philippine certification label will guarantee its fulfillment.

How is it done? It compares the results of the inspection with the requirements of the standards. The inspector evaluates, using this method like crop rotation. But he is not yet saying: “this is according to the standards.” This last process must be done by the certifier to evaluate whether the farmer is complying with the standards or not. So the certification body is ultimately the final authority to make the decisions. The inspectors are the fact finders. After evaluations, the certifiers decide about issuing a certificate, conditions and sanctions. This certificate is what the farmer wants later on, a piece of paper claiming “Your production is according to the standards.”  There is an office seal and signature t as well, enabling him to use the label “organic”, ”certified organic”, or to use the label, if there is any label.


Accreditation

The certifier confirms that the production is according to standards. But who ensures that the certifier is doing good work? The authority resides with the government, or evaluation team of ISO 65, that will check whether the certification is operating according to certain standards. There are various accreditation programs based in the department of agriculture of many countries. If you want to export to Europe, for example, there is Norm 47. ISO is from the international level. Fortunately, it has exactly the same text as the Norm. Then there is the IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement) accreditation program. It gives some criteria on how organic farming must be implemented and how organic products shall be certified.

So there exist three layers of quality management. The producer is claims that he is producing according to quality standards.The certification body checks whether this is correct by means of inspection. FiBL, a certification body in Switzerland, evaluates whether his claim is valid. And a third layer checks whether the certification body is competent or doing a proper work.

The certification body implements the program. It can implement several programs. For example, Bio.inspecta certifies according to the standards of the Swiss farmers’ association. Bio Suisse is a label. So Bio.inspecta is authorized by the Swiss farmers to certify according to this label’s standards.

This market chain has its own standards. And Bio.inspecta can also certify that.

 

Conrado Fontanilla
Conrado has an extensive background in science. He has specialized in bridging the gap between scientists and consumers. He started out in agriculture, forestry and environment. Then he branched out into medical journalism owing to his desire to control his heart disease. In the present decade interest in stem cell research has emerged, stirring ethical issues around the use of embryonic stem cells. In 2006, it was discovered that adult cells like skin can be reprogrammed back to embryonic stem cells. Now, there is no more need to utilize an embryo as the source for stem cells. Recently it was found that nutritional supplements constitute a method in stem cell therapy. Conrado has contributed to the development of stem cell-organism theory and its application in medicine, particularly regenerative medicine.