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The organics iceberg and the tyranny of organic certification

Paull, John (2013) The organics iceberg and the tyranny of organic certification. Journal of Organic Systems, 8 (2), pp. 2-5.

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Document available online at: http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/82/8201.pdf


The existence of an ‘organics iceberg’ is a hypothesis rather than a fact. Nevertheless, reports in The World of Organic Agriculture that there are 37,245,686 certified organic hectares worldwide and that this accounts for 0.86% of global agriculture are lower bounds, in fact underestimates, of the size and the achievements of the organics movement. While such statistics are seductively precise, they are merely the countable manifestation of a larger phenomenon, and perhaps a much larger phenomenon, which may be - an organics iceberg. Just how large is the uncounted ‘world of organic agriculture’, as compared to the counted world of certified organic agriculture, is a matter of speculation, but its existence is doubtless. In a recent study in India comparing the experience of organic farmers and chemical farmers, all of the 350 organic farmers lacked certification. A fortress organics mentality denies the reality that there are many reasons to be non-certified organic, and they include cost, access, and size of operation, lack of market advantage, and there is a plethora of other reasons including independence, privacy, bother, paper-work, intrusion, bio-security, and farm sovereignty. Black-letter organics has its place, but it is a place at the organics table and it is not the whole table. Consumers can differentiate between ‘organic’ and ‘certified organic’. In a study of Australian consumers half of the organics price premium was attributed to the ‘organic’ claim and half was attributed to the ‘certified’ claim. The captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, may have wondered “Perhaps there is an iceberg?” In The World of Organic Agriculture, we may be getting a good view of the tip but how much ‘berg’ are we disregarding? It is time to move beyond the tyranny of certification to embrace, celebrate and foster the diversity of the organics diaspora. A fuller and broader metrification of the world of organic agriculture is a challenging enterprise and will undoubtedly introduce a greater degree of fuzziness into the metrics, nevertheless, accounting for a world of certified and non-certified organic agriculture would be a timely enterprise that can lay the basis for warranting more organics research, more organics research funds, greater recognition for organics, greater consideration for the organics enterprise, and more shelf space for organics produce.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
"Organics" in general > History of organics
Knowledge management
Research affiliation:Australia > University of Tasmania
Related Links:http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/82/, https://orgprints.org/22490/7/22490.pdf, http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/82/8205.pdf, http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/82/8203.pdf, http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/82/8204.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:24861
Deposited On:18 Dec 2013 14:16
Last Modified:18 Dec 2013 14:16
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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