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.
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.
Most analysts believe we must double our food production by 2050, to meet the needs of a growing population as well as the desires of people in developing countries who simply want to eat better.
Unfortunately, we don’t have an unlimited supply of farmland. We have to get more from the land we already cultivate. That means improving not only conventional farming practices, but utilizing every technology available, including biotechnology, and making the most of its promise so that yields will rise.
Farmers are doing this right now: Almost 17 million of them plant GM crops, 90 percent of those are smallholder, resource-poor farmers in developing countries, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). In 2011, biotech crops took up nearly 400 million acres of farmland, up 8 percent from a year earlier.
If we’re to meet the food objectives of 2050, we’ll need to see growth like this for years to come.
Organic crops may continue to find a market among choosy buyers in wealthy countries, but their yields won’t meet the needs of the world: 80 percent just won’t cut it.
In a basketball game, if you score 80 percent as many points as your opponent, you get blown off the court, 100 to 80. That’s not March Madness; it’s March Badness.
In school, 80 percent usually earns a grade of B-minus, which is so-so at best and pretty close to a C-plus, which is heading toward not-great. It means you probably should do more homework.
If you show up for work 80 percent of the time, your boss will fire you. If your boss pays you 80 percent of your wages, you’ll quit your job–because it just isn’t good enough.
Yields of 80 percent fall too short as well. That means skipping one meal out of every five, or one out of every five people in the world not receiving the food they need to survive.
Any volunteers? I didn’t think so.
Organic food is a choice. Those with the means to choose it have every right to do so. Farmers have every right to supply what these consumers want.
But let’s also recognize that it’s a luxury, and our needs are urgent: more food, better technology, and widespread awareness of what must be done.
Showing up isn’t good enough.
Carol Keiser owns and operates cattle feeding operations in Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois. She is a Truth About Trade & Technology board member (www.truthabouttrade.org)