In industrial agriculture the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on monocultures has led to land degradation, pollution and biodiversity loss. Reaching the Global Goals requires a transition to more sustainable food and farming systems that maintain ecosystems, are better adapted to climate change and improve soil quality.
Organic farming is one way to achieve this. For this reason, Nordic Ecolabelling strives to increase the share of organic food and cotton in ecolabelled products.
How does the Nordic Swan Ecolabel contribute?
Nordic Ecolabelling promotes the use of organic products and raw materials where feasible. We do not certify food with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, but we do certify restaurants, coffee services and grocery stores. Here a certain amount of the food must be organic and additional offerings of organic products are rewarded. Nordic Ecolabelling requires that organic food be certified according to the EU regulation (Regulation (EC) 834/2007), for example by KRAV in Sweden, Debio in Norway, Luomu in Finland, Ø-mærket in Denmark or Tún-lífrænt in Iceland. It must carry the national organic label or the EU organic logo. This verifies in a trustworthy and simple way that organic food is used.
Nordic Ecolabelling promotes the use of organic cotton where feasible. For example, all cotton in clothing and home textiles for consumers like towels and bed linens must be organic. We require that the organic cotton be certified according to EU regulation (Regulation (EC) 834/2007) or equivalent standards accepted by the IFOAM (The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). This verifies in a trustworthy and simple way that the cotton is organically grown.
What is organic farming?
IFOAM (The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) defines organic agriculture as follows: “a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.”
The FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission and IFOAM have developed guidelines for production, processing, labelling and marketing of organic products. Legally binding national standards as well as private voluntary standards exist. The EU regulation on organic production and labelling covers organic food and feed and other raw materials from agriculture. This also includes raw cotton. However, there is no EU regulation on the use of organic claims on textiles.
More environmental background
Organic farming takes a holistic approach and emphasizes ecological balance, local cycles of nutrients, energy and resources, and ecological, economic and social sustainability over the long term.
Organic methods increase biodiversity and, in that way, help to maintain the ecosystem services that agriculture depends on. The number of active microorganisms in the soil increases, giving better soil health and quality. Organic farming also helps to maintain water quality in groundwater, rivers and seas, prevent soil erosion and create good conditions for carbon storage in the ground.
Synthetic pesticides and fertilisers are not permitted in organic farming. Building up fertile soil and combating weeds and pests instead involve a system of crop rotation with more perennial plants, companion planting, cover crops and green manure, and less tillage of the soil. Biological means of controlling pests and mechanical weed prevention methods are often used.
In organic livestock farming, animal welfare and the animals being able to exhibit their natural behaviour is emphasized. Crops and animals that are genetically modified are not allowed in organic farming.
The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) advocates organic farming as a system for promoting biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Also, IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) points out that organic farming can contribute to sustainable land management.
More on organic cotton
Organic cotton makes up about 0,93% of global cotton production. Cultivation of cotton is linked to serious health and environmental problems caused by the use of pesticides, fertilisers, irrigation water and monocultures.
Organic cotton alone does not solve the problems associated with water consumption for cotton cultivation. However, much of today’s organic cotton is grown in areas where rainwater is the main water source, and in that way, less water is used. In all cases, the quality of run-off water is improved in organic production.