Is aquaponics considered organic? (Organic in UK, USA, EU & Canada?)

Aquaponics vs organic debate across Canada, the USA, the UK and the EU

There’s huge debate raging about whether aquaponics produce is organic. This debate is happening in most countries around the world. The debate includes Canada, America, the United Kingdom (soon to be on it’s own after Brexit) and the EU. Are the plants and fish produced from an aquaponics system considered organic? Let’s take a look at the debate…

Is aquaponics considered organic - Organic in UK, USA, EU & Canada

Is aquaponics considered organic in 20 seconds…

The answer to the question: “Is aquaponics considered organic?” The answer depends on which country you reside. In the US under USDA organic regulations, the certification of hydroponic and aquaponic produce is allowed. EU rules do not allow for plants grown hydroponically to be marketed as organic. But fish which are grown in an aquaponics system can be sold as organic. However, when it comes to your own home DIY aquaponics system – you decide. The answer in my opinion truly lies in the fact you can’t use fertilisers and pesticides, otherwise the aquaponic fish will be destroyed.


Is aquaponics considered organic?

The question about whether aquaponics produce is considered organic rages on across the world. With the UK leaving the EU after Brexit, we need to decide for ourselves.

In the EU the aquaponic plant produce from an aquaponics system isn’t considered organic. This is because it’s not been grown in soil, which personally I don’t understand. However, the aquaponic fish produce can be considered organic.

Is aquaponics produce consider organic in the USA?

In the USA they have adopted a reasonable approach. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have certified both fish and plant aquaponic produce as being organic.

Under USDA organic regulations, the certification of hydroponic and aquaponic produce is allowed, and the National Organics Program (NOP) does not prohibit products grown with these techniques from being labelled organic.”

Organic Council – Something fishy about aquaponics

Is aquaponics produce consider organic in Canada?

Like in the USA, Canada has adopted aquaponics as being organic. This includes both plant produce and fish produce as being organic.

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, aquaponic products can now be legally labelled as organic if they are certified by an approved certifying body in accordance with the organic aquaculture standard.”

Organic Council – Something fishy about aquaponics

Is aquaponics produce consider organic in the UK?

Up to the point where the UK have finally left the EU on 31 December 2020, it will need to follow the EU rules on aquaponics produce. Right now under EU rules, plant produce is not considered organic. But the fish produce is organic.

It would appear from the debates going on in the UK that the Organic Research Council (ORC) have taken the stance that aquaponics produce should not be organic.

ORC Director Nic Lampkin said: “This is not organic farming or organic food. Shame on the NOP for taking this position. Now we need to go for global rejection of the US position.”

Organic Research Centre (ORC) – Hydroponics and organic farming

However, it looks like we may follow the Americans with their approval of aquaponics as organic. But only time will tell with the EU Brexit negotiations. Plus how other trade agreements are reached by the UK with countries like the USA and Canada.

The trade agreement with America is key to the future UK economy. That means this may influence the UK Governments decision on organics and aquaponics.

Is aquaponics produce consider organic in the EU?

As already mentioned, in the EU they consider fish produced from an aquaponics system to be organic. However, because the vegetables or fruit aren’t grown in soil in an aquaponics system, the EU don’t consider this to be organic.

EU rules do not allow for plants grown hydroponically to be marketed as organic. This is because organic production is only possible when plants are grown naturally in soil. This regulation also applies to plants that are grown in an aquaponics system. However, fish which are grown in an aquaponics system can be sold as organic if the relevant legislation for organic aquaculture is followed.”

European Commission – Products covered by EU organics rules

What makes produce organic?

Food is considered organic: If during its production or farming, the food avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.

“Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives.”

BBC Good Food – What does organic mean?

But then having read what the Organic Council have to say on the subject. They discuss how many people argue that organic agriculture is about more than just the final product. Many say that soil fertility and biological content are integral parts of the organic principle.

Organic is not just about chemicals and synthetic inputs, it’s also about soil health and fertility.”

Organic Council – Aqua-panic? Controversies Quote from Catriona Ffrench of Cookstown Greens

But in the same article Steven Bourne, CEO of Ripple Farms and an aquaponics producer has said: “There may not be soil in our systems, but our water (soil) is comprised of natural living organisms that contributes to an organic ecosystem, much like what you’d find in organic soil.”

What about your home DIY aquaponics system – are these organic?

When it comes to your own home DIY aquaponics system – you decide on whether your vegetables, fruit and fish or aquatic animal produce is organic to you.

My opinion; why not treat your home-grown produce is organic? If it’s only you who’s going to eat your own aquaponic produce, and you don’t intend to sell it, what does it matter if choose to call it organic. The important thing is that aquaponics produce is more healthy and is better for you because it does contain fertilisers and pesticides.

If you look at the above definition of what makes produce organic, by the very nature of an aquaponics system, the produce must be organic. You can’t use man-made fertilisers or pesticides, otherwise you’ll kill the aquaponic fish.

This means your produce will be organically grown and better for you.

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Happy DIY aquaponics.

Is aquaponics considered organic? (Organic in UK, USA, EU & Canada?)

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