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Effects of organic and ‘low input’ production methods on food quality and safety

Leifert, C.; Rembiałkowska, E.; Nielson, J.H.; Cooper, J.M.; Butler, G. and Lueck, L. (2007) Effects of organic and ‘low input’ production methods on food quality and safety. Paper at: 3rd QLIF Congress: Improving Sustainability in Organic and Low Input Food Production Systems, University of Hohenheim, Germany, March 20-23, 2007.

[thumbnail of Leifert-etal-2007-food-quality-safety.pdf] PDF - German/Deutsch


The intensification of agricultural production in the last century has resulted in a significant loss of biodiversity, environmental problems and associated societal costs. The use of shorter rotations or monocropping and high levels of mineral fertilisers, pesticides and crop growth regulators may also have had negative impacts on food quality and safety. To reverse the negative environmental and biodiversity impacts of agricultural intensification, a range of different ‘low input’ farming systems have been developed and are now supported by EU and government support schemes. A range of recent reviews concluded that switching to low input, integrated or organic farming practices results in significant environmental benefits and increased biodiversity in agro-ecosystems. Some recent studies also reported higher levels of nutritionally desirable compounds (e.g. vitamins, antioxidants, mineral nutrients) in foods from organic and ‘low input’ production systems compared to food from conventional systems. The increasing demand and current price premiums achieved by foods from low input and especially organic production systems were shown to be closely linked to consumer perceptions about nutritional and health benefits of such foods. However, there are other studies reporting no significant differences in composition between low input and conventional foods, or inconsistent results.
There is currently a lack of (a) factorial studies, which allow the effect of individual production system components (e.g. rotation design, fertility management, crop health management, variety choice) on food composition to be assessed and (b) dietary intervention or cohort studies which compare the effect of consuming foods from different production systems on animal and/or human health. It is therefore currently not possible to draw overall conclusions about the effect of low input production on food quality and safety. This paper will (a) describe the range of organic and other ‘low input’ standards, certification and support systems currently used, (b) summarise the currently available information on effects of organic and other low input crop production systems on the environment, biodiversity and food quality, and (c) describe the methodologies and results from subproject 2 of the EU-funded Integrated project QualityLowInputFood. This project focused on improving our knowledge about the effect of organic and low input crop and livestock production systems on food quality and safety parameters.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:organic farming, low input farming, ICM, biodiversity, environmental impact, food quality, health
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Research affiliation: European Union > QualityLowInputFood > Subproject 2: Effects of production methods
International Conferences > 2007: 3rd QLIF Congress > 2 Food quality/ safety
Related Links:https://orgprints.org/10417/
Deposited By: Leifert, Prof. Carlo
ID Code:10482
Deposited On:08 Mar 2007
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:35
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:The final version of this paper is published in:
Niggli, Urs; Leifert, Carlo; Alföldi, Thomas; Lück, Lorna and Willer, Helga, Eds. (2007) Improving Sustainability in Organic and Low Input Food Production Systems. Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress of the European Integrated Project Quality Low Input Food (QLIF). University of Hohenheim, Germany, March 20 – 23, 2007. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, CH-Frick. https://orgprints.org/10417/
Printed copies may be ordered from the FiBL Shop at www.shop.fibl.org.

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