10/04/2012 03:17 pm ET

Bhutan Organic: Himalayan Country Aiming To Phase Out Chemicals From Farming Over Next Decade

The small Asian country of Bhutan is going organic.

AFP reported that the nation, where the majority of citizens are Buddhist, is aiming to phase out chemicals from its farming during the next decade.

"Bhutan has decided to go for a green economy in light of the tremendous pressure we are exerting on the planet," Bhutan Agriculture Minister Pema Gyamtsho told AFP. "If you go for very intensive agriculture it would imply the use of so many chemicals, which is not in keeping with our belief in Buddhism, which calls for us to live in harmony with nature."

Jigmi Thinley, Bhutan's prime minister, said at a Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development earlier this year that he wants to make "the 'raised in Bhutan' label synonymous with 'organically grown,'" according to Rodale.

Rodale also reported that Bhutan is already largely organic, as many of the country's farmers don't use artificial pesticides or fertilizers anyway, one big reason being that they are too expensive.

Most farmers in Bhutan grow crops like rice, corn, oranges and potatoes, NPR reported, but the country has started importing foods like rice over the last few years. Bhutan does export red rice to the United States, though it technically is not certified organic (even though red rice seller Lotus Foods says that the product doesn't have chemicals), according to NPR.

In the United States, in order for a product to be considered "organic" it must be officially certified by the United States Department of Agriculture. "Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used," according to the USDA website:

If you see the USDA organic seal, the product is certified organic and has 95 percent or more organic content. For multi-ingredient products such as bread or soup, if the label claims that it is made with specified organic ingredients, you can be confident that those specific ingredients have been certified organic.



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