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History of Organic Farming

Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control, to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.

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 organizations established in 1972. IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as follows:

"Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.." —International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

The organic movement began in the 1930s and 1940s as a reaction to agriculture's growing reliance on synthetic fertilizers. Artificial fertilizers had been created during the 18th century, initially with superphosphates and then ammonia derived fertilizers mass-produced using the Haber-Bosch process developed during World War I. These early fertilizers were cheap, powerful, and easy to transport in bulk. Similar advances occurred in chemical pesticides in the 1940s, leading to the decade being referred to as the 'pesticide era'.

As a percentage of total agricultural output, organic farming has remained tiny since its beginning. As environmental awareness and concern increased amongst the general population, the originally supply-driven movement became demand-driven and now globally more and more consumers can find organic farms closer to them.