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Regenerative Is the New Buzzword, but What Does It Mean?

Should organic be a requirement of a regenerative agriculture program or should all farmers—even those who use pesticides and genetically modified seeds—be able to participate to address the climate crisis?

Regenerative agriculture is the fastest-growing trend in farming and food. A tipping point seems to have been reached as more and more food companies, small and large, make commitments to advance regenerative agriculture with its focus on soil health and carbon sequestration to reverse climate change. General Mills committed to regenerating one million acres of farmland; Cargill recently announced plans to regenerate 10 million acres. Seven farms and brands including Nature’s Path and Patagonia recently received Regenerative Organic Certification. Even retail giant Walmart announced its intention to become a “regenerative company.”

But what does regenerative mean? Unlike “organic,” which is a defined term backed by a regulatory system, “regenerative” has no such commonly accepted definition. Agriculture and food companies and non-profit groups are making regenerative claims. How valid are they? Are some companies holding regenerative to a high standard while others are greenwashing the term?

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