Organic can feed the world
Scientists Find Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World & More
Comprehensive study gives the lie to claims that organic agriculture cannot feed the world because it gives low yields and there is insufficient organic fertilizer. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Two usual objections are levelled against the proposal that organic agriculture can feed the world. Organic agriculture, opponents claim, gives low yields, and there isn’t enough organic fertilizer to boost yields substantially.
A team of scientists led by Catherine Badgley at the University of Michgan Ann Arbor in the United States has now refuted those common misconceptions about organic agriculture. Organic agriculture gives yields roughly comparable to conventional agriculture in developed countries and much higher yields in developing countries; and more than enough nitrogen can be fixed in the soil by using green manure alone .
The research team compared yields of organic and conventional agriculture (including low-intensive food production) in 293 examples, and estimated the average yield ratio (organic versus non-organic) of different food categories for the developed and the developing world. With the average yield ratios, they modelled the global food supply that could be grown organically in the current agricultural land base. The results indicate that organic methods could produce enough food to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base.
They also estimated the amount of nitrogen potentially available from nitrogen fixation by legumes as cover crops. Data from temperate and tropical agroecosystmes suggest that they could fix enough nitrogen to replace all of the synthetic fertilizer currently in use.
The report concluded: “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.”