A poll carried out by Canadian group Equiterre has revealed that most Quebecois are in favour of organic farming and believe it to be an essential part of the solution to problems caused by intensive agriculture.
But the poll of 1,001 French Canadians carried out in November last year also confirmed that some people confuse organic agriculture with biotechnology or the use of chemicals.
Elizabeth Hunter, coordinator of projects to Equiterre, said: "The public wants agriculture without pesticides and artificial fertilisers and wants the government of Quebec support it." Some 81 per cent of the respondents agreed that the government of Quebec should give financial support to help farms to stop using fertilisers and chemical pesticides.
The poll also showed support for state financing of organic certification. Equiterre said that the Quebec government needed to strengthen the system of certification and help farms to make the transition towards organic production. Demand for organic food in Quebec is increasing by 25 per cent a year, but less than 1 per cent of agricultural land is at present in organic production and only 700 farms are certified. Equiterre said this should be increased to 3,000 by 2007.
Equiterre has been given almost C$300,000 (€215,182) by the Quebec government to help to promote organic food and said it would focus on educating consumers by telling them that organic farming is better for the environment. Organic food production in Canada is governed by a set of voluntary rules set out by the Canadian General Standards Board, and only Quebec imposes large fines for misrepresentation.