Organic Farming Manual

Miracle Farm Blueprint

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The Agreement on Agriculture and related WTO agreements trade liberalisation decoupling and organic farming

The AoA marked a step towards greater trade liberalisation in agricultural products an area marked by protectionist policies in the recent past. However, free trade in agriculture remains an ideal rather than a reality. The OECD reported that market and trade distorting support to agricultural production in 1999, at 40 of gross farm receipts, was back to levels of the mid-1980s (as measured by the Producer Subsidy Estimates that included all forms of state support) (OECD 2001). To date, studies evaluating the impact, or potential impact, of the liberalisation agreements on agriculture have drawn varying conclusions. Some initial studies suggested that trade liberalisation would be beneficial to agri-environmental farming, as the fall in price support would reduce production and the amount of agrochemicals applied to the land. Further study in the UK concluded that the net environmental impact would be damaging, particularly in more marginal farming areas (Potter et al. 1999). Alan...

Organic farming sustainable agriculture and the modern agrofood system

A related theme within both conventional and alternative agriculture over the past decade or more has been the need to make agriculture more sustainable. Sustain-ability has proven to be a universally embraced and appropriated concept, and consequently its meaning is highly contested. Jules Pretty (1998), as an advocate, has identified some key principles for sustainable agriculture firstly, a thorough integration of natural processes such as nutrient cycling, nitrogen fixation, soil regeneration and pest-predator relationships into agricultural production processes secondly, a minimisation of external and non-renewable inputs that damage the environment or farmers' health thirdly, full participation of farmers in problem solving and greater use of farmers' knowledge and experience in seeking technical and technological solutions. Lastly, wildlife, water, landscape and other public goods of the countryside should be enhanced in terms of quantity and quality. Sustainable agriculture...

The CAP Agenda 2000 reform and organic farming

The state of European agriculture and rural life is largely shaped by the CAP regime, which has provided a macro policy framework, in a somewhat contradictory and imperfect way. The CAP also provides the umbrella under which member states can support organic farming. The aims of the CAP as set out in the Treaty of Rome (article 39) set the tone for the contradictions within this policy. The aims included to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture stabilise markets assure availability of supplies ensure supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices (CEC 1958). In short, the CAP was concerned not only with food production, but also with securing a degree of social stability in Europe during the post-War transition from a largely rural, peasant population to a largely urban one. The result has been a policy that has...

Summary of chapter coverage

Struik & Kropff (Chapter 2) present their broad vision regarding the agricultural use of pesticides. Over the past century, an encompassing technology package has developed, aimed at the modernisation and rationalisation of agricultural production, which includes chemical fertilisers, hybrid seeds, sophisticated knowledge, and the replacement of labour with machines. During this time, the use of pesticides in agricultural production has, on the one hand, significantly contributed to increases in productivity by suppressing predator species that feed on crops (parasites, diseases, herbivores) and species that compete with crops for light, nutrients and water (weeds). On the other hand, external effects (environmental pollution, impacts on non-target organisms) and second-order effects (resistance) of pesticide use have developed to such an extent that the alleged agro-economic benefits can be seriously questioned and environmental and social sustainability is threatened. What is...

Agricultural solutions

First and foremost it is necessary to develop a prevention system based on agro-ecological insight. This means that agriculture should seek an ecological approach that makes better use of the buffering and stabilising capacity of the agro-ecosystem itself, in order to help suppress biotic stresses. Vereijken (1997) developed a methodological way of prototyping arable farming systems in interaction with pilot farms that may result in the design of sustainable cropping systems with a strongly reduced use of pesticides. other tools fail. Agricultural science is working on developing a tool kit that will go a long way in this direction, and will make it increasingly rare for chemicals to be needed. Unpublished research of the former Department of Agronomy of Wageningen University, for example, showed that in a cropping system with a very high frequency of potato cultivation and an intended heavy pressure of a variety of potato pests and diseases, a diversity of non-chemical control...

Reviewing existing pesticides according to current scientific standards

The Swedish review included a hazard and risk analysis, a benefit analysis and a risk benefit assessment. Cut-off criteria were applied to reject or phase out certain pesticides. (These criteria identify pesticides that are clearly unacceptable from the point of view of health and the environment or both when an inherent property of a pesticide exceeds one of these criteria, an application will usually be rejected.) The idea behind the cut-off criteria was to facilitate prompt and easy authorisation procedures and predictability in the outcome of the decision. After the 1990-1995 review period, of the 180 'old' active substances for agricultural products, only 100 remained. Some 20 substances were removed from the market for health reasons and around 20 for environmental reasons. Many of these substances were substituted by others posing less risk. Some 15 substances were severely restricted. Many renewed approvals did get different kinds of restrictions (Bergkvist et al. 1996). This...

Examples of NIRA applications

Extensive use has been made of NIRA in agriculture where it has been used to determine the protein, fibre, water and triglyceride contents of feedstuffs and the quality of crops. By training the computer to recognise the near-infrared (NIR) spectra of the major components making up a crop, the individual components can be monitored in the crop itself. The components that can be measured by NIRA often cannot be measured by the usual spectroscopic methods. The fundamental work done in the quality control of agricultural products can be readily extended to the quality control of pharmaceutical formulations.

Empirical assessment of potential efficiency and innovation offsets

Since 1979, research has been carried out in The Netherlands into developing integrated farming systems for field crops. This technical development has brought different possibilities to the farmer to reduce the input of agrichemicals. Most of the studies evaluating the new farming practices concluded that it could benefit farmers through reduced costs of farm inputs, significantly lower emissions of pesticides and nutrients while maintaining yield levels and yield quality (Wijnands 1992). Extension projects were set up to introduce the new methods into farming practice. The pilot farms achieved significant reductions in pesticide and nitrogen use and also achieved attractive financial results. The projects' results had significant consequences, particularly for pesticide policy.

Measuring trends in agricultural pesticide use risks and pest management

Many OECD countries are developing three main types of indicators, covering the (a) use, (b) risks and (c) management of pesticides. Fig. 8.1 provides a simplified overview of the various linkages between pesticide use, risk, management and other agri-environmental indicators. Pesticide use is influenced by whole farm management practices adopted by farmers for example, the adoption of organic farming systems will lower pesticide use. Also the use of specific pest management practices, such as integrated pest management, will also affect the use and associated risks from pesticide use.

Nonchemical pest control methods

Chemical pesticides are not used in organic farming hence Fig. 8.4, showing trends in the share of agricultural land under organic farming, can also be considered to reflect trends in the area where only non-chemical pest control methods are used. Organic farming systems also include many other requirements and, consequently, the area where chemical pesticides are not used often exceeds the area under organic farming. Examples of such countries include Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, where significantly more farmers are now using non-chemical pest control methods than in the 1980s. Fig. 8.4 Share of the total agricultural area under organic farming Early 1990s and mid-late 1990s (OECD, 2001). Fig. 8.4 Share of the total agricultural area under organic farming Early 1990s and mid-late 1990s (OECD, 2001).

Bulb growing areas in the main producing countries

In the Netherlands, bulbs have been traditionally grown around Hillegom, in the Bloembollenstreek. The advantages to bulb production here are considerable ideal sandy soils with a controlled water table, abundant traditional expertise, a strong R&D base, the availability of family labour for labour-intensive bulb handling, and a superb infrastructure for marketing, selling and logistics. With the pressure on agricultural land in this region in recent years, however, much narcissus production has moved to the heavier soils of the polders of North Holland, more akin to the situation in eastern England. About 55 of the production area is in Noord-Holland and 33 in the Bloembollenstreek (de Vroomen and de Groot, 1991).

Claims about potential benefits

Multinational agrochemical companies, in their publicity material, annual reports and in interview comments made by senior managers, stress a number of benefits that biotechnology potentially offers. Commonly expressed views about the ways in which company strategy on biotechnology can contribute to sustainable agriculture and sustainable development are shown in Table 11.4. (Some of the companies mentioned in Table 11.4 have merged since this research was done e.g. Novartis and Zeneca merged in 2000 to form Syngenta Rh ne-Poulenc and AgrEvo merged in 1999 to form Aventis cf. den Hond in this volume.) In particular, companies stress the potential for GM crops to reduce the use of insecticides and herbicides, and to allow farmers to switch to herbicides with less environmental impact. They say that in some cases GM crops will result in improved yields, for example by reducing losses due to pest damage. This will allow more food to be grown on the same area, and reduce the need to...

Insectresistant Bt crops

Companies accept the possibility that the targeted pests will develop resistance. In laboratory tests, at least ten species of moths, two species of beetles and four species of flies have developed resistance to Bt toxins (Tabashnik 1994, quoted in Wolfenbarger & Phifer 2000). In the field, the diamond back moth (Plutella xylostella), a common and widespread pest of Brassica species, has developed resistance to sprays of Bt toxin. Whereas Bt sprays, which are used for pest control in organic farming, are used intermittently, the Bt toxin in Bt crops is present throughout the season. This increases pest exposure, so may increase the chances of resistance developing, especially if (as in some Bt maize, for example) the levels of Bt toxin expressed by the crop are not uniformly high or tail off towards the end of the growing season. In response to the concerns of consumer groups and organic farmers, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, responsible for the regulation of pesticidal...

Herbicidetolerant crops

In the UK, researchers noted seed formation on male sterile plants of oilseed rape four kilometers away from any other oilseed rape crop, although it is possible that the pollen may have come from feral oilseed rape plants closer than this (Thompson et al. 1999). The National Pollen Unit in the UK reported finding pollen from GM oilseed rape in beehives 4.5 kilometers away from the crop (FoEE 1999), though this finding remains contentious. The Soil Association, representing organic farmers in the UK, has asked for the separation distance between GM crops and other crops, especially organic ones, to be increased to six kilometers. Currently the separation required is fifty meters from conventional crops, or 200 meters from organic crops and crops grown for seed production.

Implications for sustainable development

So, given that the evidence of benefits and risks is limited and that there remain many uncertainties, what can we conclude about the potential contribution of biotechnology (in particular, GM crops) to sustainable agriculture and sustainable development To consider first the 'market-based' concept of agricultural development, it is too early to judge the claims that GM crops will increase yields so that less land will be needed for agriculture than would otherwise be the case, or that they will provide farmers with extra income that will be invested in environmental improvements. For the GM crops currently in commercial production, the evidence for increased yields and income is variable. Low market prices for agricultural products have led farmers in northern America to adopt GM crops in the hope of reducing costs and maintaining viability, reasons that would be unlikely to lead to a reduction in the cropped area or to investment in environmental measures. Nor does the adoption of...

Standard setting and certification for organic production

IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, is the international umbrella organisation of organic agriculture. It was founded in 1972 IFOAM defines organic agriculture as the following (http, 21 September 2000) Organic agriculture includes all agricultural systems that promote the environmentally, socially and economically sound production of food and fibres. These systems take local soil fertility as a key to successful production. By respecting the natural capacity of plants, animals and the landscape, it aims to optimise quality in all aspects of agriculture and the environment. Organic agriculture reduces external inputs by refraining from the use of chemical-synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. The use of genetically modified organisms is excluded. The EU devised legislation defining organic agriculture in 1991.1 This legislation is largely based on the IFOAM system of inspection and certification. In the preamble to the...

Overview of the market situation for sustainably produced food

Organic production and consumption steeply increased in the last decade, especially since the second half of the 1990s. In our 1999 study focusing on the EU (van der Grijp & den Hond 1999), we saw that the number of organic farms rose from fewer than 10 000 to more than 80 000, and that the organic acreage increased from less than 250 000 to more than 2 200 000 hectares in ten years. The latest figures show that the growth of organic acreage is still continuing, and it is the general expectation that during the next years similar huge growth rates will be reached. Our study from 1999 showed that the main factors determining the level of organic production in a country are government support, especially subsidies for conversion involvement of retailers and the food processing industry consumer demand and export potential.

Production of dwarf and smallbulbed cultivars and Narcissus species

There is very little commercial production of Narcissus species and it is limited to specialist nurseries, but bulbs of many species have been exported from Mediterranean countries, especially Portugal (Oldfield, 1989). Several Narcissus species are considered to be under threat as a result of over-collecting or loss of habitats (Koopowitz and Kaye, 1990). Commercial bulb companies are now very aware of the environmental implications of trading wild-collected bulbs, and, because of consumer interest in these attractive species, there would be scope for commercial production if appropriate, sustainable farming methods and stocks were available (Hanks and Mathew, 1997).

Factors Associated with Increased Risk for Parkinsons Disease

Because MPTP resembles the herbicide paraquat, and several ecologic studies suggested a rural preponderance of Parkinson's disease, factors associated with the rural environment have been studied. Multiple case-control studies have detected positive associations between Parkinson's disease and exposure to pesticides,64-66 well water,67-69 and rural living.67,69 Information about exposures to specific agents is limited but suggests paraquat,70 dieldrin,71 organochlorines,64 alkylated phosphates,64 and carbamate derivatives65 may have a causal role in Parkinson's disease. In China, several decades ago, a case-control study found that exposure to industrial chemicals, printing plants, or quarries was associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease but found no relationship with agricultural work and Parkinson's disease.72 In contrast, an investigation in Hong Kong during that time period did find such an association,73 perhaps due to differences in farming practices...

Molecular Detection of Functional Gene Signatures for Detecting Pathogens in Soil

Detection of pathogens and assessment of their activity in the environment is important for ecological studies as well as for public health. A variety of microbial pathogens that infect humans and animals are known to survive in soil, e.g. enteric pathogens such as Salmonella sp., Vibrio cholerae, Shigella sp., Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia sp., Escherichia coli O157 h7 (Santamaria and Toranzos 2003) and other pathogens such as Mycobacterium bovis (Young et al. 2005). Pathogens enter the soil via excreta of infected wild and domesticated animals, and animal and human waste applied to agricultural land as fertiliser. Landfill leachates present an additional route for human and animal pathogens to enter the soil in 1993, the US generated 156 million tons of waste, which was sequestered in landfills. Household waste can contain pathogens present in human and animal faeces, food waste and sewage sludge (Santamaria and Toranzos 2003).

Industries And Occupations Associated With Pd

Counties in Michigan with a higher concentration of industries with potential for heavy-metal exposures (iron, zinc, copper, mercury, magnesium, and manganese) had a higher PD death rates.9 Using levodopa prescription records as a surrogate for PD, two studies have shown an increased risk of PD in areas with prominent employment in wood pulp and steel alloy industries.10 Some potential confounds to the surrogate diagnosis and study methodology include inclusion of non-PD phenocopies and inability to separate working in an environment from living in an environment. If increasing world industrialization is a risk factor for PD, the incidence should be increasing throughout the last century. Only one study has addressed the incidence of PD over time. The yearly incidence of PD has not significantly changed between 1955 and 1970 in Rochester, Minnesota.11 However, it is unlikely that there has been a substantial change in the industrialization of this relatively rural community over that...

Distribution of Enzyme Activities with Soil Particles

The silt-sized particles were the principal medium-term sink for organic C, applied as organic manures and or plant residues to an Eutric Cambisol treated for 42 years (Gerzabek et al. 2002). The sand-sized fractions accumulated organic C by increasing organic C levels of bulk soil, thus possibly acting as indicators of organic C content of the investigated soils, whereas the clay-sized fraction contained more stable organic C and was less affected by treatments than the other particle-size fractions. Invertase activity was found largely in silt- and clay-sized particles, whereas xylanase was found in fine sand particles. An increasing bacterial diversity and abundance with decreasing particle size was also evidenced by 16S rRNA-based analysis (Gerzabek et al. 2002). Both fungal and bacterial communities were differently distributed among coarse sand, silt and clay fractions of a Luvic Phaeozem soil subjected to farmyard manure application over 120 years (Poll et al. 2003).

A framework for analysis production innovation institutions

In certain respects, this policy was highly successful. The shift to intensive farming systems in the aftermath of World War II has allowed a break from dependence on crop rotations and livestock. For instance, world-wide cereals production has increased more than 2.5-fold, a growth rate higher than that of population growth (Brown 1994). Similarly, Vos (1992) reports a more than doubling of tuber yields in potato production in The Netherlands since 1950. Countries that adopted agricultural policies to stimulate this shift obviously enhanced the competitiveness of their agricultural exports. But undesired consequences must be pointed out as well, which relate to (1) pressure on farm profitability and (2) increased vulnerability of the farming system in terms of sustainability. The processes of specialisation, rationalisation and technological innovation have advanced to the extent that farm profitability has been adversely affected. By the late 1980s, political concern became...

Standard setting and certification for integrated production

Integrated production or Integrated Crop Management (ICM), though much used and debated, is not easily defined. This production method could be considered as a stepwise implementation of a range of agricultural practices that more or less radically diverge from conventional agriculture. ICM aims to minimise the use of fertilisers and pesticide products by favouring other measures such as natural predators, crop rotation and mechanical weeding. Pests need not be eliminated, but rather kept under control, at levels below which they cause economic damage. In this manner it encompasses the earlier concept of 'integrated pest management' (IPM) (Perkins 1982). During the process of elaborating standards, EUREP has sought, and received, support from the European Commission. A clear sign of the Commission's interest is the fact that Community officials deliver speeches at EUREP conferences. In the future, it should not be considered unthinkable that financial support to farmers will be made...

Socioeconomic institutions

Both the supra-national and intergovernmental regimes of CAP and WTO provide systems of rules and norms. Such institutional systems are the outcome of negotiations where not always are the intended outcomes ensured. Nevertheless, they influence the conditions under which conventional and alternative agricultural systems of production have to operate. For organic farming, Barling sketches the multifaceted consequences of changes in the institutional system. Organic farming plays out two roles in the system, one of which is the explication of an extensification strategy. The other role is that of a provider of wider public goods, notably rural development and nature conservation. The increasing spread of organic farming takes place at the same time as the introduction of field trials for genetically modified crops. Direct conflict occurs between these alternatives.

Causes of interfarm variation

Inter-farm variation in pesticide use may be caused by a wide variety of factors. In the first place there are regional differences in terms of climate, soil and the incidence of weeds, pests and diseases, in relation to the selected crop varieties, etc. At the same time, though, major variation is also observed among holdings within one and the same region, where uniform conditions of soil and climate prevail (de Snoo et al. 1997). Ultimately, quantity of pesticide product applied by individual farmers is determined by three basic factors

About the Editor

Berdanier is a professor emerita of the University of Georgia. She earned her B.S. from Pennsylvania State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in nutrition biochemistry from Rutgers University. After a postdoctoral year with Dr. Paul Griminger, she served as a research nutritionist with the Human Nutrition Research division of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA, and concurrently held a faculty position with the University of Maryland. After 7 years, Dr. Berdanier moved to the College of Medicine of the University of Nebraska in Omaha, where she again was a full-time researcher with some teaching assignments. Later, she moved to the University of Georgia, where she headed the Department of Nutrition for 11 years, followed by 11 years as a teacher and researcher in the genetic aspects of nutritional response in diabetes. Her research was supported by grants from NIH, USDA, several commodity groups, and USDC Sea Grant Program.


Synthetic chemicals will probably continue for some time as the major weapon against most pests because of their general reliability and rapid action, and their ability to maintain the high quality of agricultural products that is demanded by urban consumers today. Although new chemicals offer a short-term solution, this approach to pest control alone will rarely provide a viable, long-term strategy. Moreover, a few years of commercial exploitation may not justify the investment required to develop a new pesticide today, except where there are reasonable prospects that a pesticide's mode of action may be beyond

A change in attitude

In arable farming, human control of the environment is much less than in horticulture, and consequently exposure to biotic stresses is more intense and diverse. Controlling one biotic stress may enhance another one. New problems appear with frightening frequency (e.g. bacterial wilt Elphinstone 1996), or old problems become intractable (e.g. late blight in potato Fry & Smart 1999). The labour input required to protect the crop without chemical input is enormous (especially in relation to weed control), the crop and financial losses under sub-optimal protection are large and the margins extremely small. Nevertheless, 'biological' farming is becoming more popular and is increasingly promoted by governments because they see it as the best route towards sustainability. Moreover, some farmers experienced in biological or organic farming are doing so well commercially that the potential of the approach has clearly been demonstrated. These aspects provide an extra incentive to reconsider...


The resulting data facilitate molecular analysis of bioactive food components and identification of appropriate biomarkers that target individuals who are at risk and predisposed to cancer. Ever-increasing evidence, including that presented in this volume, substantiate the beneficial effects of certain nutrients and interactions between nutrients in the carcinogenesis pathway, paving the way for modification of nutritional requirements as a cancer prevention strategy. In the future, diet, nutrition, and cancer prevention will be included in public health programs that target cancer risk management in the population at large, and on individual programs that focus on particular cancer risk profiles. Concomitantly, agricultural sciences will continue to develop improved plants through both traditional breeding techniques and genetic modification and food industries will

Future Direction

Due to their ubiquitous nature in the environment, the alicyclobacilli can be routinely isolated from liquid sugars, such as HFCS, concentrated juices, purees, and other agricultural products. Although there is no doubt that the alicyclobacilli have been involved in spoilage of juice and beverage products, the significance of detecting them in an unspoiled food sample remains in question. It is unlikely that the detection of a single spore in 100 g of concentrated juice by quality control testing would correlate with the potential for spoilage in the final product.

Conceptual Lessons

Put bluntly, conventional agriculture is not sustainable in vast areas of these savannas under present or foreseeable international production and marketing conditions. The situation is compounded by the deteriorating global terms of trade for ubiquitous agricultural commodities like red meat or cereals. By contrast, the value of the spectacular African macrofauna, with its inherent global comparative advantage, is increasing as demand for wildlife-based activities escalates, allowing wildlife to out-compete other uses of the land. Unfortunately, there are still many examples where this potential continues to be subverted artificially by inappropriate institutions driven by outdated thinking in regard to both rural development and nature conservation.

Pesticide use

Significant reductions in pesticide use, by 30 or more over the past ten years, are also observed in countries that have set targets to reduce the use of pesticides. Examples include Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The reduction has also been linked to the increasing area of crops under organic farming and subject to integrated pest management and other pesticide reduction practices, for example in Italy, Spain and Switzerland.6 The expansion in the area under organic farming is also acting to reduce pesticide use in some countries, for example in Austria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland (Fig. 8.4). Decreasing pesticide use in the United Kingdom has been due, in particular, to the introduction of new herbicides with lower recommended doses (MAFF 2000). From the early 1980s up to the 1990s pesticide use decreased in the United States, as commodity prices fell and large areas of agricultural land were taken out of production under government...

Farmer uptake

In the 1997 NASS farmer survey, farmers said their main reasons for adopting GM crops were to increase yields through improved pest control (54-76 of farmers, depending on crop and trait) and to decrease pesticide input costs (19-42 , the highest proportion being for Bt cotton). With low market prices for agricultural products at the time, it is not surprising that ways of increasing income and reducing costs were high on most farmers' list of priorities. Reasons that might be linked to reducing environmental impact were low on the list. 'Increased planting flexibility' (for example, by using reduced-tillage or no-tillage systems) was cited by only 2-6 of farmers, and 'adoption of more environmentally friendly practices' by 0-2 (Fernandez-Cornejo & McBride 2000).

Net returns

Changes in net returns might have an indirect environmental benefit if low incomes led to agricultural land being abandoned or if, as is sometimes claimed, high incomes allowed farmers to devote money to environmental improvements. Net returns affect sustainability broadly defined, so as to include social sustainability, by their effect on farming livelihoods.


Agricola is a product of the National Agricultural Library (NAL). NAL, the largest agricultural library in the world, is part of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is one of four National Libraries in the U.S. AGRICOLA contains over 3 million bibliographic records produced from 1970 to the present. It is also accessible free of charge on the WWW. NAL http www. Agricola http Hwww. ag98

United Kingdom

The first supermarket to introduce organic foods was Safeway in 1981, and by 1990 the 'big five' - Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose - were all stocking them (Comber 1998). The major supermarket chains all developed their own strategies to market organic products. Tesco, for example, offers organic produce at the same price as conventional lines, and is financially supporting a newly created organic agriculture research centre at Aberdeen University (Organic Food News UK, 29 September 1998). Furthermore, it works with The Soil Association, a certification organisation, to help develop the organic produce sector, and actively encourages farmers to move into organic growing. Tesco now offers more than 700 organic products (Norton 2000). heavily in a new range of organic products (Norton 2000). Sainsbury's is presently the retailer with the highest organic market share, notably 2.5 of its general sales (Haest 2000). The company has put a strong emphasis on the development of...


The reform of the CAP and the revision of the AoA will be played out in concert with debates at the national level across Europe on the future shape of agriculture and food production. The outcome of these debates will be decided within a multilevel framework of governance for food, at the local, national, regional and global levels. Decisions taken at these interrelated levels will shape the more individual, local-based decisions of farmers over whether to take up (or continue) more extensive and sustainable agricultural practices such as organic farming. Significant increase of state support for extensive farming systems, at the expense of production supports, will undoubtedly have an impact on the nature and spread of farming and its landscape in countries such as the UK. Progress towards policy agreements that are more conducive to the support of organic farming will also help the regulators of farming and food to catch up with the surge in market demand for organic produce in the...


An essential element of proper management of diseases, pests and weeds is prevention. It is crucial to design land use systems, farming systems and cropping systems in such a way that problems will hardly occur. Farming systems should be designed in such a way that the chances of re-infection or spread are minimal. This may include the design of farms in such a way that fields of easily infected crops are well surrounded by ecological safe-havens for antagonists, natural enemies and other beneficial organisms (Smeding 2001). Crop rotation should take into account the multiplication of soil-borne pathogens or should allow optimal control of weed populations (Struik & Bonciarelli 1997). Important elements of a crop rotation include which crops are grown in a rotation, the frequency with which each crop is grown, and in what sequence crops are grown (Struik & Scholte 1992 Struik & Bonciarelli 1997). Although it is difficult to set out general rules for a good crop rotation, one should at...

The Netherlands

Another relevant government document concerns a policy plan for promoting organic agriculture between 2001 and 2004 (Beleidsnota biologische Landbouw). Consistent with the previous policy document (Plan van Aanpak Biologische Landbouw 1997-2000), but unlike neighbouring European countries, the Dutch government holds the opinion that market forces will determine which share of organic production is feasible in The Netherlands. Considerable effort and money will be put into research, increased cooperation in organic product chains and tax incentives. A remarkable fact, though, is that the Dutch government, as the first in the EU, plans to abolish conversion subsidies after 2002. At a first impression, it seems that the Dutch government has chosen the option of ICM as the most realistic form of sustainable agriculture for The Netherlands, and that in its opinion every farmer converting to organic agriculture is a bonus.

Process optimization

Systematic development of optimal control strategies for fed-batch fermentation processes is of particular interest to both biotechnology-related industries and academic researches 2,7,14 , since it can improve the benefit cost ratio both economically and environmentally. Many biotechnology-based products such as pharmaceutical products, agricultural products, specialty chemicals and biochemicals are made in fed-batch fermentations commercially. Fed-batch is generally superior to batch processing on the final yield. However, maintaining the correct balance between the feed rate and the respiratory capacity is a critical task. Overfeeding is detrimental to cell growth, while underfeeding of nutrients will cause starvation and thus reduce the production formation too. From the process engineering point of view, it opens a challenging area to maximize the productivity by finding the optimal control profile.

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