The evolution of the organic market space represents an opportunity for conventional farmers keen to try something new and to provide the full transparency to consumers keen to know where their food comes from. Once thought of as a mere fad, demand for organic food has doubled over the past number of decades, a trend that is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
The record-keeping and organic certification process will always be a detailed undertaking, in order to provide the full spectrum of information that the market wants around provenance of food. Technology is now allowing field activities and farm inventories to be tracked and shared instantly.
This is good timing, as new regulations are a possible response of government food agencies who are hearing more and more about unsafe levels of pesticide residues in food grains around the world.
Both organic and conventional crops carry pesticide residues into the food system. It’s more common with food crops produced conventionally, due to allowed practices like pre-harvest glyphosate application.
Spray drift and a buildup of contaminants in the soil are two possible causes of pesticide residues showing up in certified organic crops. Another possible cause is that some farmers and traders cheat the organic system to capture the attractive premiums without incurring the full costs.
The obvious way to start reducing the level of pesticide residues on crops is to stop using them. Minimizing spray drift is another important step that farmers can take.
There is no immediate economic gain to farmers to start undertaking this process, apart from organic price premiums. In the meantime, finding ways to reduce the amount of pesticides on food crops could help mitigate the risk of further market access issues.