“There is not enough land to feed the world with organic food”
Organic food producers, who eschew synthetic crop protections for “natural” products, routinely market their products as more sustainable than conventional offerings, but they are not, writes Ross Pomeroy at geneticliteracyproject.org.
An analysis of 71 studies conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford found that organic milk, grains and pork generated higher greenhouse gas emissions per product. A more damning study published in 2018 found that organic peas grown in Sweden have a 50% greater impact on climate change than conventional peas. Simply put, there is currently not enough arable land to feed the world with organic food. Either millions – if not billions – would starve to death, or more tropical forests would have to be cut down to clear land for agriculture. Neither option seems very durable.
These glaring figures show that organic farming is not really about sustainability. It’s a question of ideology and branding. Organic food producers, especially large corporations, are only selling the misleading notion of “nature” and charging more for it.
A recent agricultural development that further demonstrates this point is hydroponics. With hydroponics, food is grown in nutrient-enriched water rather than in the soil. This almost always takes place indoors in an air-conditioned environment using LED grow lights, which means pesticides are usually not needed. Recent data suggests that hydroponic systems need less than 10% water and as little as 1% of the land to achieve yields similar to those of soil-based agriculture. The only downside is that the power consumption is between 10 and 11 times higher, but if that electricity comes from wind or solar, that disparity seems a lot less intimidating. Hydroponics can happen anywhere, all year round. Imagine its usefulness in desert mega-cities like Doha or Dubai, where there is little arable land nearby, little water, but lots of sun.
With all the glaring benefits of hydroponics, one would think that the organic industry would be very interested in adopting it, but it is not. Despite the fact that hydroponically grown foods may qualify for the USDA organic seal, the anti-genetic engineering advocacy group Center for Food Safety, along with more than a dozen organic organizations, are asking USDA to ban hydroponics forever. being considered organic. Why? Quite simply because it does not use soil.
“They argue that’s because organic farming is about nourishing the soil, and without soil, how can you have organic farming,” wrote Dr. Steven Novella, president of the New England Skeptical Society, in a recent blog post. This is nonsense, of course. If organic farming was really about preserving the soil, one would think that a system of agriculture that does not use the soil at all would be highly desirable. Apparently not.
Read the full article at www.geneticliteracyproject.org.