Organic Agriculture's Approach towards Sustainability; Its Relationship with the Agro-Industrial Complex, A Case Study in Central Macedonia, Greece

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Abstract

Up to now, several scientific works have noted that the organic sector resembles more and more conventional farming's structures, what is widely known as the “conventionalization” thesis. This phenomenon constitutes an area of conflict between organic farming's original vision and its current reality and raises ethical and social questions concerning the structure of agricultural systems of production and their interactions with the socio-economic and natural environment. The main issue of this dialogue is the concept of sustainable agriculture, which for scientists and policymakers is a means to express their vision of a better agriculture. In this article we focus on agricultural sustainability in the context of capitalist production as conducted by the two subsystems of agro-industrial system. As we have proposed in this article, the relationship between organic agriculture, defined by two essential components (prevention and direct marketing), and the agro-industrial complex, defined by two subsystems, indicates the degree of agricultural sustainability. The investigation of this relationship can be extremely useful as it may lead those involved in the discussion of sustainability to identify the key aspects of sustainable agriculture. In order to investigate the interaction of organic farming with the agro-industrial complex, a survey was conducted in Central Macedonia, Northern Greece, involving local organic farms. The results of our study indicate that a large proportion of organic producers did not differ substantially from their counterparts in conventional agriculture in so far as their relationship with the agro-industrial complex is concerned. Finally, this research highlights two scenarios for the evolution of organic farming. The first is the full absorption of organic farming to the existing economic system and the second one is the development of organic farming in a radically opposite direction to conventional farming.

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