Sunday, July 15, 2007

Study: Organic Farming Can Feed the World

Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional
farming in developing countries, and holds its own against standard methods
in rich countries, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said their findings contradict arguments that organic farming -- which
excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides -- is not as
efficient as conventional techniques.

"My hope is that we can finally put a nail in the coffin of the idea that
you can't produce enough food through organic agriculture," Ivette
Perfecto, a professor at the University of Michigan's school of Natural
Resources and Environment, said in a statement.

She and colleagues analyzed published studies on yields from organic
farming. They looked at 293 different examples.

"Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce enough food on
a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and
potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural
land base," they wrote in their report, published in the journal Renewable
Agriculture and Food Systems.

"We were struck by how much food the organic farmers would produce,"
Perfecto said.

"Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has
been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the
chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies,
all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you
need to have these inputs to produce food," she added.

(read the full study published in Cambridge University Jou...)

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=1091304
Research Article
Organic agriculture and the global food supply
Catherine Badgleya1, Jeremy Moghtadera2a3, Eileen Quinteroa2, Emily
Zakema4, M. Jahi Chappella5, Katia Avilés-Vázqueza2, Andrea Samulona2 and
Ivette Perfectoa2 c1
a1 Museum of Palaeontology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
a2 School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, MI 48109 USA.
a3 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
48824, USA.
a4 School of Art and Design, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
a5 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

Abstract

The principal objections to the proposition that organic agriculture can
contribute significantly to the global food supply are low yields and
insufficient quantities of organically acceptable fertilizers. We evaluated
the universality of both claims. For the first claim, we compared yields of
organic versus conventional or low-intensive food production for a global
dataset of 293 examples and estimated the average yield ratio
(organic:non-organic) of different food categories for the developed and
the developing world. For most food categories, the average yield ratio was
slightly <1.0>1.0 for studies in
the developing world. With the average yield ratios, we modeled the global
food supply that could be grown organically on the current agricultural
land base. Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce
enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human
population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing
the agricultural land base. We also evaluated the amount of nitrogen
potentially available from fixation by leguminous cover crops used as
fertilizer. Data from temperate and tropical agroecosystems suggest that
leguminous cover crops could fix enough nitrogen to replace the amount of
synthetic fertilizer currently in use. These results indicate that organic
agriculture has the potential to contribute quite substantially to the
global food supply, while reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of
conventional agriculture. Evaluation and review of this paper have raised
important issues about crop rotations under organic versus conventional
agriculture and the reliability of grey-literature sources. An ongoing
dialogue on these subjects can be found in the Forum editorial of this issue.

Correspondence:

Corresponding author: perfecto@umich.edu

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5996.cfm

7/10/2007 http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1036065820070710

1 comment:

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