Organic-PLUS is an EU-wide research project to minimise--and eventually phase out--certain contentious inputs occasionally used in certified organic agriculture.
Coordinated by Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, the Organic-PLUS project involves 10 universities and 15 research institutions and NGOs across nine EU and three non-EU countries and runs from May 2018 to April 2022.
One of the main projects undertaken as part of Organic-PLUS has been to work with a consortium of organisations involved with organic potato production, to develop robust, blight-resistant varieties of potato, alleviating the need for contentious inputs. Blight is a disease which can quickly devastate entire potato crops, so reaching a commitment from all involved, from breeders, to producers to major retailers, is a major achievement.
Soil Association, with support from Organic-PLUS and along with organisations such as Organic Grower’s Alliance, Organic Research Centre, English Organic Forum and Biodynamic Association have worked with major retailers Waitrose, Riverford and Abel and Cole, and breeders Agrico, Sarpo, RBOrganic and Produce World, to commit to and role out this transition by 2026.
Minimising--and eventually phasing out--contentious inputs from certified organic agriculture
By phasing out contentious inputs, organic food systems can be more true to the IFOAM organic principle of ‘ecology’. This principle is now shared by the EU bio-economy agenda, focusing on renewable biological resources from land and sea.
However, the objectives of Organic-PLUS are equally applicable to non-organic farming systems seeking to adopt more agroecological solutions. This combined focus on organic principles and bio-economy will not only lead to more resilience and quality assurance within organic production, but also reduced environmental impact and fairer, more reliable rules and regulations that organic consumers (current and new) can trust, further encouraging the growth of the sector.
The overall aim of the Organic-PLUS project is to provide high-quality, trans-disciplinary, scientifically informed decision support to help all actors in the organic sector--including national and regional policy makers--achieve the next level of the organic success story in Europe.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 774340. Follow the project on Twitter