Looked at from a spiritual point of view, mankind’s most heinous acts may not be the enslavement, murders and wars we inflict on our brethren, but rather the destruction we are wreaking on other species by our relentless pursuit of our own ends. Scientists estimate that some 30% of the different organisms present on this planet in 1970 are now extinct.
One of the most destructive of our practices is modern agriculture. Deforestation for farming is relentlessly reducing natural habitats in the most diverse parts of the world. Monocropping edges out wild species of plants. Synthetic pesticides and herbicides destroy all life forms we do not want for our purposes. Traps, fences and dogs have killed or domesticated animals for livestock. Factory fishing is rapidly depleting the world’s stock of seafood.
One of the less-heralded strengths of organic certification is that it holds farmers to the principle of finding ways to work with nature to improve biodiversity. The ways farms that maintain high levels of biological diversity can reap practical benefits are many: pollination, predator control, soil friability, moisture retention, and weed control, among others.
In Europe, many countries even provide direct financial payments to farmers who increase biodiversity. In America the National Organic Program is beginning to encourage certifiers to require stronger biodiversity efforts on the part of organic farmers.
This issue focuses on the ways organic farms can do more to promote biodiversity, and why they will benefit if they do. We hope this will bring about an increase in learning about and practicing farming methods that bring more nature back into the fields and pastures.