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Organic and Sustainable Farmers Can Feed the World

January 13, 2009 | 30,067 views
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organic farm, sustainableA key question that is often asked about ecological agriculture, including organic agriculture, is whether it can be productive enough to meet the world's food needs. While many agree that ecological agriculture is desirable from an environmental and social point of view, there remain fears that ecological and organic agriculture produce low yields.

Below is a summary by Lim Li Ching, a researcher with Third World Network, of the available evidence to demystify the productivity debate and demonstrate that ecological agriculture is indeed productive, especially so in developing countries.

A recent study examined a global dataset of 293 examples and estimated the average yield ratio (organic : non-organic) of different food categories for the developed and developing world (Badgley et al., 2007). For most of the food categories examined, they found that the average yield ratio was slightly less than 1.0 for studies in the developed world, but more than 1.0 for studies in developing countries.

On average, in developed countries, organic systems produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture. In developing countries, however, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms.

With the average yield ratios, the researchers then modeled the global food supply that could be grown organically on the current agricultural land base. They found that organic methods could hypothetically produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without putting more farmland into production.

Moreover, contrary to fears that there are insufficient quantities of organically acceptable fertilizers, the data suggest that leguminous cover crops could fix enough nitrogen to replace the amount of synthetic fertilizer currently in use.

This model suggests that organic agriculture could potentially provide enough food globally, but without the negative environmental impacts of conventional agriculture.

For the entire article, please click on the Source Link below.

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.


Donate Today!

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I’m continually amazed that so many policymakers find it hard to believe that organic and sustainable farming can actually produce enough food to feed the world.

If you’re still unconvinced, I highly suggest you read the whole article linked above. As you’ll read, one recent study that examined a global dataset of 293 farming examples found that in developing countries, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms. And a review of 286 projects in 57 countries found that farmers who used "resource-conserving" or ecological agriculture had increased agricultural productivity by an average of 79%!

“It is clear that ecological agriculture is productive and has the potential to meet food security needs … Moreover, ecological agricultural approaches allow farmers to improve local food production with low-cost, readily available technologies and inputs, without causing environmental damage,” Lim Li Ching writes.

Really, the question we should be asking ourselves shouldn’t be ‘Can organic or sustainable farming feed the world?’, but ‘How can food production possibly continue as it is?’

The Modern Food System is Crumbling

There are so many problems facing the food system that it’s hard to even pinpoint a place to begin, but I’ll start with factory farms -- the modern world’s “solution” to raising animals for food.

It may surprise you to learn that such farming creates some of the worst pollution in the United States. The Farm Sanctuary points out that farm animals produce 130 times more waste than humans. And agricultural runoff is the primary reason why 60 percent of U.S. rivers and streams are polluted.

Meanwhile, in areas where animal agriculture is most concentrated (Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Illinois and Indiana round out the top five states with the most factory-farm pollution) bacteria known as pfiesteria is common in waterways. Not only does pfiesteria kill fish, it also causes nausea, memory loss, fatigue and disorientation in people!

Aside from the pollution, factory farms use vast quantities of resources. According to FactoryFarm.org, industrial milking centers that use manure flush cleaning and automatic cow washing systems, go through as much as 150 gallons of water per cow per day.

Energy costs are even steeper.

A 2002 study from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that industrial farms use an average of three calories of energy to create one calorie of food. Grain-fed beef is at the top of the list of offenders, using 35 calories of energy to produce one calorie of food! And this does not even take into account the energy used to process and transport the foods, so the real toll is even larger.

So when I hear someone extolling the virtues of “modern” agriculture and wondering how “organic” or “sustainable” farming could possibly be the solution, I maintain the fact that we have come to accept inefficient, industrial practices, including dousing our food with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as a viable way to grow food is the real wonder.

And what about genetically modified foods, which were “supposed” to end the global food crisis years ago? Well, lest I open up another can of worms entirely (GM foods are easily one of the biggest threats to both mankind and the earth today) I will suffice to say that GM crops have NOT increased yields as promised.

In fact, research by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) found that GM soy decreased yields by up to 20 percent compared with non-GM soy, and up to 100 percent failures of GM cotton have been recorded in India.

It is quite apparent that the food system began its dramatic decline the second the world turned away from the farming practices of our ancestors, and began to attempt to outdo nature with technology. What is needed is clearly a return to nature, and that is what organic and sustainable farming practices are striving to accomplish.

How to Support Organic and Sustainable Farming Movements

If you have the time and the space, I encourage each of you to consider starting your own small-scale “farm” in your backyard. It takes just a small patch of land, or even several large containers, to grow ample amounts of produce for your family.

I also suggest you steer clear of foods that come from factory farms or any large industrial farms, and instead support sustainable agriculture movements in your area. After declining for more than a century, the number of U.S. small farms has increased 20 percent in the past six years. This is in large part a result of the growing demand for locally grown foods, which is slowly but surely shaping the business of food in the United States.

So please realize that each and every one of you can make a HUGE difference.

To find sustainable agriculture movements in your area, from farmer’s markets to food coops and more, please see this comprehensive list.

It is important to understand the impact you have when you spend your money on factory food. Changing your shopping patterns by supporting local agriculture will not only help improve your health, it will also help improve the environment and bring back our rural communities.

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico