The organic timeline can be measured in approximately 100 years: from the early days of imagining organic by those who saw the connections between how we live, eat, and farm, our health and the health of the planet (what we call ‘Organic 1.0’); to the forming of the movement and the codification of standards and enforced rules that have established organic in 82 countries with a market value of over $72 billion per year (what is termed ‘Organic 2.0’). Looking to the future, this booklet is a call to action and a call for a paradigm shift to what the next phase of organic, ‘Organic 3.0’ can and should be.
Organic 2.0 shaped the visions of the pioneers into a practical reality. Organic has inspired producers and consumers alike and has changed unsustainable habits around the globe. There is evidence of positive impacts on a wide range of important issues including consumer health, biodiversity, animal welfare and the improved livelihood of producers. The standards maintained by state governments and private organizations mainly define minimum requirements for organic production and processing. However, they often fail to entirely meet the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care, at the core of the organic philosophy. The rules and regulations of Organic 2.0 have also resulted in the organic movement facing constraints on two fronts. First, we have excluded many producers who grow organically without organic certification: smallholder and peasant farmers – frequently women, and often in the least economically developed countries in the global south – who play a critical role in feeding much of the world’s population. Second, we have limited our own opportunities to build bridges with other sustainability initiatives that share our objectives but do not aim at full compliance with our standards, including agro-ecology, fair trade, food movements, smallholder and family farmer movements, community supported agriculture, urban agriculture and many others.
Although the many achievements of the organic movement are significant and have gained recognition worldwide, the reality is that after a century of innovation and disruption, certified organic agriculture has not even reached 1% of global agricultural land or food consumption. As a movement for change, we must decide how to scale-up our impacts and share what we know with a wider base of farmers and consumers.
Agriculture is one of the leading factors in global issues of hunger, inequity, energy consumption, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural resources. And yet, the positive, multi-faceted environmental, social and economic benefits of a truly sustainable agriculture can contribute solutions to most of our world’s major problems. If mainstream agriculture were to adopt more organic practices and principles, the need for Organic 2.0 would cease to exist. Until now, though, organic has not been included – or inclusive – enough to contribute these solutions on a global scale. The Organic 3.0 concept seeks to change this, by positioning organic as a modern, innovative system which puts the results and impacts of farming in the foreground.