A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.
The study, to be published online Wednesday, Dec. 10, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, tackles the lingering perception that organic farming, while offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemically intensive agriculture, cannot produce enough food to satisfy the world's appetite.
Organic farming is of course environmentally and socially sound, but many critics have argued it simply cannot compete with industrial farming which uses chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and even genetically modified crops. However, a new study conducted by UC Berkeley challenges that notion, proving the gap between organic and industrial cultivation is not only smaller than previously thought, but most likely can be closed or exceeded with proper research and development.
Berkeley's news center reported that:
“In terms of comparing productivity among the two techniques, this paper sets the record straight on the comparison between organic and conventional agriculture,” said the studys senior author, Claire Kremen, professor of environmental science, policy and management and co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute. With global food needs predicted to greatly increase in the next 50 years, its critical to look more closely at organic farming, because aside from the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, …
“It’s important to remember that our current agricultural system produces far more food than is needed to provide for everyone on the planet,” said Kremen. “Eradicating world hunger requires increasing the access to food, not simply the production. Also, increasing the proportion of agriculture that uses sustainable, organic methods of farming is not a choice, it’s a necessity. We simply can’t continue to produce food far into the future without taking care of our soils, water and biodiversity.”
A National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Postdoctoral Fellowship helped support this research.
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