Assessment made on 01 Jan 2001
ClassificationAgriculture (Primary theme)
Policy issue: What environmental protection measures are being taken by the sector?
The land devoted to organic farming has increased significantly, although it still accounts for only 2.5% of agricultural land in the EEA member countries.
The rise in organic farming is a positive sign, with organic products becoming increasingly popular across Europe. Environmental benefits include higher biodiversity on agricultural land and reduced flows of pesticides and other toxins into the environment.
The amount of land devoted to organic agriculture increased 5-10 times over the past 5-10 years, stimulated in part by the EU agri-environment measures. This growth, however, is from a small base, so only 3.2 million hectares - 2.5% of agricultural land in the EEA member countries - is currently devoted to organic farming.
Adoption of organic farming techniques has been uneven with six countries - Austria, Lichtenstein, Finland, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden - seeing more than 5% of their land farmed organically, compared to 1-2% elsewhere. Growth is expected to continue, with the share of organic farming predicted to reach 5-10% in EEA member countries by 2005.
Organic farms are less productive, however, and organic agriculture should not be considered as the only solution to the sector's environmental problems. More information is required on other approaches, such as low input farming, integrated crop management, and integrated pest control.
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