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October 27, 2022

Today, the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU is proud to announce the release of Grow Organic: The Climate, Health, and Economic Case for Expanding Organic Agriculture, a joint report co-written with Natural Resources Defense Council and Californians for Pesticide Reform. Dr Kathleen Merrigan, our Executive Director and author of the 1990 law that established organic agriculture standards in the United States, Esteve G. Giraud, Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Lena Brook, Allison Johnson, and Sarah Aird are all contributing authors.

Decades of research have shown the benefits of organic agriculture for our health, our ecosystems, and for our economy. In June 2021, we released The Critical To Do List: 46 Recommendations for the President in which we cited some of this research to highlight the importance of our policy recommendations. In this new report, we get deeper into the scientific findings, and present sets of evidence showing the benefits of organic agriculture for climate, human health, and the economy. We listed a total of 370 distinct single references, cited throughout 5 chapters, and summarized into 56 pages of content (+ 12 pages of footnotes); and we invite you to dig in.  

If you want to know how exactly organic agriculture reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves soil health and carbon sequestration, and supports agricultural resilience, take a seat, grab your favorite (organic) drink of choice, and start reading. In our chapter on organic and health, we compile the research that shows how organic protects people from agricultural chemicals in our soils and drinking water, stems the antibiotic resistance crisis, protects ecosystems and human health, and is simply healthier to eat. In the organic and economics chapter, you will learn (or re-learn) about the high demand and growth of the organic sector, how organic supports rural economic development and farmers livelihoods, and how organic prices reflect the true costs of food. 

As you read through the pages, you will also hear directly from 14 US organic farmers who share their experience, expertise, and testimony.

Finally, the report closes with 10 policy solutions to help grow organic, and leverage its benefits:

  1. Expand organic production by reducing barriers to organic transition
  2. Ramp up federal resources that promote organic innovation, success, and accessibility
  3. Ensure racial and indigenous justice and equitable participation in organic agriculture
  4. Use true cost accounting to identify agricultural investments that benefit the public
  5. Create stable organic markets and expand access through public procurement
  6. Reward organic management and ecosystem services in agricultural policies 
  7. Educate the public about the benefits of organic 
  8. Invest in regional supply chains to meet growing demand for organic
  9. Strengthen organic rules and enforcement
  10. Integrate organic throughout public institutions

To read and download the report, click here

Image source: USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.