Organic foods are made in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations. In the United States, organic production is a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 and regulations in Title 7, Part 205 of the Code of Federal Regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. For the vast majority of human history, agriculture can be described as organic; only during the 20th century was a large supply of new synthetic chemicals introduced to the food supply. This more recent style of production is referred to as "conventional."
Place of origin: Under organic production, the use of conventional non-organic pesticide (including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides) is precluded. However, contrary to popular belief, certain sprays and other materials that meet organic standards are allowed in the production of organic food. If livestock are involved, the livestock must be reared with regular access to pasture and without the routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones. In most countries, organic produce may not be genetically modified. It has been suggested that the application of nanotechnology to food and agriculture is a further technology that needs to be excluded from certified organic food. The Soil Association (UK) has been the first organic certifier to implement a nano-exclusion.
Food features: Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients. If non-organic ingredients are present, at least a certain percentage of the food's total plant and animal ingredients must be organic (95% in the United States, Canada, and Australia) and any non-organically produced ingredients are subject to various agricultural requirements. Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives, and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions, such as chemical ripening, food irradiation, and genetically modified ingredients. Pesticides are allowed so long as they are not synthetic.
Nutrition: In April 2009, results from Quality Low Input Food (QLIF), a 5-year integrated study funded by the European Commission, confirmed that "the quality of crops and livestock products from organic and conventional farming systems differs considerably." Specifically, results from a QLIF project studying the effects of organic and low-input farming on crop and livestock nutritional quality "showed that organic food production methods resulted in some case: (a) higher levels of nutritionally desirable compounds (e.g., vitamins/antioxidants and poly-unsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and CLA); (b) lower levels of nutritionally undesirable compounds such as heavy metals, mycotoxins, pesticide residues and glyco-alkaloids in a range of crops and/or milk; (c) a lower risk of faecal Salmonella shedding in pigs." but also showed no significant difference between traditionally grown foods on other studies. The QLIF study also concludes that "further and more detailed studies are required to provide proof for positive health impacts of organic diets on human and animal health." Alternatively, according to the UK's Food Standards Agency, "Consumers may choose to buy organic fruit, vegetables and meat because they believe them to be more nutritious than other food. However, the balance of current scientific evidence does not support this view."