NATURE PLANTS | VOL 2 | JULY 2016 | www.nature.com/natureplants 1
PUBLISHED: 1 JULY 2016 | ARTICLE NUMBER: 16098 | DOI: 10.1038/NPLANTS.2016.98
To the Editor — We agree with Reganold
and Wachter1 that organic farming
oers lessons for improving agricultural
sustainability. However, current organic
certication systems do little to prevent
deforestation and other forms of habitat
conversion. For example, the USDA
organic standard, widely applied around
the world, failed to prevent deforestation
for organic sugar in Paraguay2. e
certication criteria recommended by
the International Federation of Organic
Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
specify that organic farms should not
be established on “land that has been
obtained by clearing of High Conservation
Value Areas in the preceding 5years”3,
but fail to elaborate how these areas
should be identied, by whom, and how
compliance is audited. Rigorous assessment
of land-use change cannot be le to
individual, poorly resourced auditors4.
e organic movement must learn from
other sustainability standards, such as the
Roundtable on Responsible Soy and the
Rainforest Alliance, which provide more
rigorous protection for forests and other
habitats. is will become increasingly
pertinent as interest in nding ways
to end habitat loss intensies, and as
companies commit to deforestation-free
supply chains. ❐
Cath Tayleur1* and Ben Phalan2*
1Conservation Science Group, Department
of Zoology, University of Cambridge,
David Attenborough Building, Pembroke
Street, CB2 3QZ, UK. 2Department of Forest
Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State
University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.
1. Reganold, J.P. & Wachter, J.M. Nature Plants
2, 15221 (2016).
2. Rogers, H. Mother Jones 35, 58–79 (2010).
3. e IFOAM Norms for Organic Production and Processing
(IFOAM, 2014); http://bit.ly/21m1F0F
4. Jurjonas, M., Crossman, K., Solomon, J. & Baez, W.L. Worl d De v.
78, 13–21 (2016).
Organic farming and deforestation