Hydroponics, Aquaponics Not “Organic,” Some Say

Associated Press writer Lisa Rathke reported today that, “Can a tomato grown in a nutrient solution instead of dirt be called ‘organic‘? Some purists don’t think so.

“The National Organic Standards Board, which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture, voted this month against a proposal to exclude hydroponics and aquaponics — the raising of plants without soil and fish using the same water — from the USDA’s organic certification program.

“Many traditional organic farmers and their supporters say allowing hydroponic farms to be certified organic erodes the integrity of the $16 billion U.S. organic produce industry.”

The AP article indicated that, “To them, organic farming is about far more than not using toxic pesticides; it’s rooted in enhancing the fertility of soils, a concept developed in the early 20th century by pioneering organic farmers. Organic farmers worked hard to create the National Organic Program in 2000, an achievement they say is now being watered down by allowing hydroponic farms to be part of it.”

Ms. Rathke added that, “Marianne Cufone, executive director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition, which represents hydroponic and aquaponic farmers, said the law left room for the meaning of organic to expand. She said she was shocked that so many people opposed hydroponic and aquaporin farming from being labeled as such.”

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