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Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used. The prevalence of organic farming has increased rapidly, particularly in Western Europe, Latin America, and the United States. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers — especially in the South.
Fair Trade organisations backed by consumers are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade. Fair trade organizations, commonly referred to as alternative trading organizations ATOs , distribute or import products that comply with fair trade specifications. In the case of coffee, producers sell coffee beans to a primary cooperative, which then sells to secondary and tertiary cooperatives that subsequently export the products.
At each step of the process, producers and cooperatives must meet standards set by Fairtrade International FLO , a non-profit organization that directs the fair trade movement and promotes the Fairtrade Certification Mark.
In addition to meeting certification requirements, producers and cooperatives must pay the FLO a fee for certification. The importer also agrees to pay more for the product; importers pay a set minimum price of coffee, for instance, even when the world price of coffee collapses, and will pay a higher price for coffee that sells as Fairtrade Certified.
This higher price is known as the fairtrade premium and goes towards exporters, who pool the money into a communal fund to improve their local conditions. Fair trade differs, however, from free trade. While fair trade buyers pay a higher price for fairtrade-certified products, free trade lets markets act without interference. Under the free trade system, governments and organizations do not impose tariffs, subsidies, or price controls in the international market.
Fairtrade International Certification Label 8. Under a fair trade system, producers collaborate with retailers and wholesalers. Producers consequently receive fair wages, gain respect, and are viewed as people, rather than assets. Furthermore, producers are educated about international markets, enabling them to make products that align with consumer tastes.
Through this process, producers gain a stronger foothold in the international market. Producers might also receive developmental aid from buyers, in the form of microloans or access to health insurance, among other benefits.
The study concluded that certified cooperatives received a stable and often higher price for every ton of coffee. The nine cooperatives also produced and sold finished products to the market, putting proceeds toward scholarship programs for secondary schools. However, other studies have found that producers selling certified organic or fair trade foods may not receive more financial benefits than do conventional producers.
One survey of agricultural cooperatives in Nicaragua found that although prices of organic and fair-trade certified coffee were greater than those of conventional coffee, a smaller amount of certified coffee was produced. The decreased yield in certified coffee accounted for the decreased revenue for the organic and fair-trade product, compared to conventionally grown coffee or organic but not fair-trade certified coffee.
There is continued controversy surrounding the health and nutritional benefits of organic food. Some studies claim that research has not shown any differences in nutritional content between organic foods and conventionally grown foods.
However, there are health concerns associated with conventionally produced foods, and proponents of organic food claim that there are dangers inherent in conventional foods. For example, USDA-certified organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticides than does conventional produce. Organic foods also contain very limited amounts of food additives, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics. In addition, there are many concerns about how livestock is raised, as substances in meat may harm our health.
In the Duckett study and , Rule study , and Union of Concerned Scientists study , as cited in Hamerschlag, grass-fed beef contained more nutrients and less fat than did grain-fed beef. Studies report increased levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 IGF-1 in milk from cows treated with artificial hormones, and IGF-1 increases the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.
This is another controversial issue, as some research has shown that organic agriculture decreases crop yields, while others demonstrate the opposite. As mentioned previously in the case of coffee beans, farmers who produced certified fair trade and organic coffee beans produced less coffee than did conventional coffee growers. Other sources have reported contrary findings.
In developing countries, yields from organic agriculture were the same as those from industrial agriculture. Compiling all of this information, it seems that organic agriculture may increase yield primarily in developing nations, where conventional agriculture does not rely on many synthetic inputs. United States Department of Agriculture, 29 July Agricultural Marketing Service, 7 Feb. FAO Statistical Yearbook Retrieved 5 June Joining Fair Trade Forces.
European Fair Trade Association, Fairtrade International FLO , Charter of Fair Trade Principles. University of Sussex, June Ecological Economics 70 — Mayo Clinic, 03 Dec. Nutrition-related health effects of organic foods: Lowell Center for Sustainable Production; Oct. Pediatrics Jun; What You Eat Matters.