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Kootenay lake near Nakusp

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

So... Organic farming can feed the world's population?

Food prices on the world market tell us very little about global hunger. The majority of truly undernourished people -- 62 percent, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization -- live in either Africa or South Asia, and most are small farmers or rural landless laborers living in the countryside of Africa and South Asia.
They are significantly shielded from global price fluctuations both by the trade policies of their own governments and by poor roads and infrastructure. In Africa, more than 70 percent of rural households are cut off from the closest urban markets because, for instance, they live more than a 30-minute walk from the nearest all-weather road.

Now along come the organic movements with their short sighted science:

Organic crops can feed the world and totally eliminate dependence on pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, irrigation etc etc.
So,let’s just dispose of the ridiculous idea that the whole world could go organic if we all agreed to do it.
Limited crop yields mean organic agriculture simply can’t feed the world.
University of Manitoba agronomist Vaclav Smil calculated that in order to replace synthetic nitrogen (widely used today) with organic nitrogen, the U.S. alone would need an additional 1 billion livestock (for manure) and 2 billion acres of forage crops (for the livestock).
That’s the size of the lower 48 states.

In other words, the organic niche is just that—a niche, and a feel-good boutique system for those who can afford it.
But the idea that its widespread use would bring widespread benefits to humanity belongs in the compost.

What about nutritive value of Organic Food?
Rutgers University professor Joseph Rosen analyzed the marketing and health claims made by organic proponents. After noting that experts at the Mayo Clinic and American Dietetic Association don’t find any real benefits in organic food, Rosen concludes:

Much of the proof advanced by both the Soil Association and the Organic Center are based on research articles that have not been reviewed by independent scientists and data that are not statistically significant. Nonexistent or incomplete data are nevertheless “published” in the media. In some cases, organic food proponents omit data that do not support their views… Consumers who buy organic food because they believe that it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food are wasting their money.
Here's similar findings from yet another accredited group of scientists:

What's so tragic about this is that we know from experience how to fix the problem. Wherever the rural poor have gained access to improved roads, modern seeds, less expensive fertilizer, electrical power, and better schools and clinics, their productivity and their income have increased. But recent efforts to deliver such essentials have been undercut by deeply misguided (if sometimes well-meaning) advocacy against agricultural modernization and foreign aid.

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