Friday, September 09, 2016

Organic is no Solution

Despite evidence showing that organic food is basically a consumer fraud, what explains its increasing popularity? From a farmer's perspective, he or she can sell the same crop for a higher price. And from the consumer's perspective, the most likely explanation is the placebo effect. Rich people feel good when they eat organic placebos. Organic food, in other words, is a luxury. And it's a luxury poor people in the developing world simply cannot afford.

Organic farms are not as productive as conventional ones. In fact, the overall average is that organic farming produces 20% fewer crops. Organic crops were produced at substantially lower yields than their conventional counterparts. Organic farms produced roughly 1/3 less wheat and soybean, both important staple crops. Potato production on organic farms was a whopping 62% lower.

An inefficient food production system that cannot feed everybody is, by definition, not sustainable. The authors also underscore this point by noting that "if all US wheat production were grown organically, an additional 12.4 million hectares (30.6 million acres) would be needed to match 2014 production levels." That's hardly environmentally friendly. Extrapolate those numbers out to the rest of the globe, and one can easily see how organic farming is unsuitable.

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