By: Emily Cassidy, Research Analyst (EWG)
Organic farming isn’t just a niche for a privileged elite.
A new study, published today (Dec 10th) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London shows that organic farmers can achieve yields nearly as large as their counterparts practicing conventional agriculture. And they can still cultivate crops without highly toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that pollute groundwater and stimulate algae blooms that suffocate marine life.
The new study, led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that the difference between organic and conventional yields when crops are rotated each season may be as low as 8 percent — much lower than the previously estimate of 25 percent.
Proponents of conventional ag have long cited studies claiming a wide gap between organic and conventional yields to argue that organic can’t feed the world. If the UC Berkeley study is right, we can feed the world without destroying the environment.
The fact of the matter is, focusing on yields will not cure global hunger or obesity, two of the biggest problems facing modern societies. When American agriculture focuses on boosting yields, as it has done with corn, it ends up feeding cows and cars, not people. In fact, more than three-quarters of the calories grown on American farms go to animal feed and biofuels. Do we really need more high yielding corn fields that destroy the soil, run off into our waterways, and provide only small amounts of edible food? (Full story here)…
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