You know now, after reading through my blog, that I strongly believe in this method being the most natural and environmentally friendly agricultural method, so why should I ask you would say... Well, let start with something we already know: aquaponics is about creating this natural and fragile ecosystem and by taking a permaculture approach, reducing the use of natural resources and grow food the most naturally possible. So why wouldn't it be possible to give aquaponics the famous "organic label"?
What does the US say about this?
A year ago, in spring 2017, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) had yet another meeting with government instances such as USDA and other big wigs to decide what is and isn't allowed under the organic label guidelines. They meet twice a year to vote on all kinds of topics related to organic certification. Attending these meetings is like getting a seat the White House press conference...you need to be int he industry and apply very early. But that's another story.
What is important to note is that very few if at any of these important actors of the agricultural world know very little about hydroponics let alone aquaponics, specially since both have evolved in the past 20 years in a way that is ready to shift the way agriculture is being done.
Hydroponics, Aquaponics and Aeroponics/Container Production
These three methods are widely used throughout the world for a variety of crops and with a very high return. So it is not at the "proof of concept" phase anymore.
To understand what is happening in higher instances, let me explain how things get decided. The NOSB had met again in fall 2017 and did something most hydro/aqua/aero farmers feared they would do: put them all in the same basket and decide for everyone, with one guideline. This created a lot of confusion in the industry. So, as of that meeting, water based growing method was allowed to receive the organic label under the USDA umbrella. But there was an amendment...another one. The right to use water based growing method and call it "organic" was another time in the cross-hair. I can imagine from here, the UAE, where traditional agriculture is going strong, that soil farmers lobbying strong, together (for once) against the Voodoo farmers growing food with fish poop and other weird concoction called bioponics.
Later on that same year a report came out indicating that the NOSB Subcommittee conference stating that they were revoking organic certification for these methods of crop production...
Find the report from the Fall meeting here.
Where are we at now?
So it is not that the sub-committee is entirely against, I think, it is more that they have no clue, as in not enough information/data to substantiate the possibility of granting the organic label to these methods of agriculture.
So it is in our hands really. We must continue talking about it, doing it and doing it the best way possible. I will go even further and I would say let's do it in a 100% natural way that does not include anything traditional organic agriculture would not use to enhance their crops. It is possible and together we will make it.
Why is organic label so important?
Having the organic label on your produce is a huge marketing differentiator in a commercial growing environment. Having the certification will help consolidate the pricing strategy for our aquaponically grown produce. We know that aquaponics is all about creating an ecosystem. The value added is a no-brainer to obtain and maintain the certification.
I am a French expat, married, dad of one, nature lover and firm believer of sustainable living. My background is leisure and tourism industry. I fell into aquaponics and now I am sharing with you my adventure.