What is in this article?:
- Organic farming cannot feed planet
- Perpetual sub-sector
Organic farming will remain a healthy sub-sector of the agricultural industry. But it won’t ever be more than this. It can’t ever be more than this if we’re serious about feeding the world.
Woody Allen won an Oscar for the screenplay to his film Midnight in Paris on Sunday night, but he didn’t collect his golden statue in person. He’s semi-famous for not attending the Academy Awards, which is odd because he also once said that 80 percent of success is just showing up.
There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement, but let’s face it: 80 percent usually isn’t good enough. The rest of your success depends on more than showing up. After you show up, you have to perform.
That’s why a new study in a scientific journal has so much to teach about food security. If we’re going to succeed in feeding a global population of billions in the 21st century — one of the greatest challenges of our time — we’re going to need every tool and technology available so farmers around the world can choose what will work best on their farm. This must include new farming technologies. Farmers cannot be limited to the methods that were used in the past.
The researchers discovered an important truth: Organic agriculture can’t feed the world.
“Our results show that organic yields of individual crops are on average 80 percent of conventional yields,” write Tomek de Ponti, Bert Rijk, and Matin K. van Ittersum of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, in the latest issue of Agricultural Systems, a peer-reviewed academic publication. They examined 362 studies that compared organic and conventional crop yields, creating what they call a “meta-dataset.” That’s a fancy way of saying their work was comprehensive.
Organic foods make up only a small percentage of overall food production, but sales have boomed in the last 15 years. Although they can be pricey, many consumers have expressed a preference for them, and so farmers have met the demand. Opportunities are about to increase, following the announcement in February that the United States and European Union will accept each other’s organic standards.
So organic farming will remain a healthy sub-sector of the agricultural industry.