Organic: Is it the future of farming?

In its pure form, maybe not. But elements of the organic philosophy are starting to be deployed in mainstream agriculture. Nature's reporters analyse this trend, assess the extent of organic farming worldwide, and frame the questions on which its wider adoption will depend.

If your politics are green, you like your medicine 'holistic' and you're deeply worried by economic globalization, the chances are your fridge is full of organic produce. Today, support for organic farming is frequently part of a bigger social and political mindset — one that holds that 'natural' is best, and that naked capitalism is a threat to the health of the planet and its people.

But the origins of organic agriculture, in 1940s Britain, are more down-to-earth. Its pioneers were concerned, above all else, about the soil beneath their feet. Their philosophy was centred on practices designed to improve the richness and stability of the soil by restoring its organic matter and avoiding syn...

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