Preserving Wildness

When we buy organic produce we assume that it is cultivated in an environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable manner, including a healthy respect for the ecosystem as a whole. The truth is that current organic regulations do nothing to protect native ecosystems and irreplaceabkle wildlands from being converted into large scale organic farms, and in some ways, they actually incentivize it. The idea that wild ecosystems must be sustained is part of a healthy agroecology is clearly a core principle of an organic philosophy. But in the ecologically illiterate political environment no fundamental value, heirloom tenet, honored principle, or treasured heritage can now be held in trust.

It is often our most prisitne wild lands, those that have never had agrochemicals applied that can be most quickly certified as organic. This makes them particularly desireable to well-funded corporations looking to launch large-scale corportate organic farms.

Organic certification must be strengthened and expanded if necessary, in order to protect our sensitive ecosystems from exploitation. The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) clearly established that organic producers must conserve biodiversity.The law must now be vigorously defended and regulatory loopholes that still incentivize the conversion of wild lands to organic agriculture must be closed.

Burning down rainforests to plant “organic” soybeans, or irrigating the southwestern desert in order to develop concentrated animal feeding operations for an “organic” mega-dairy does exactly comport with the core tenets of an organic philosophy. A simple change in the organic certification, as suggested by the NOSB’s regulatory addition, would begin to disincentivize conversion of native ecosystems into organic production and the newly-strengthened regulations could then be used to help prevent our treasured wild lands from being transformed into areas of commercial agricultural production…organic or otherwise.