10 Reasons why organic can save the world
Ed Hamer & Mark Anslow
1st March, 2008
Can organic farming feed the world? Ed Hamer and Mark Anslow say yes, but we must farm and eat differently
Switching to organic farming would have different effects according to where in the world you live and how you currently farm.
Studies show that the less-industrialised world stands to benefit the most. In southern Brazil, maize and wheat yields doubled on farms that changed to green manures and nitrogen-fixing leguminous vegetables instead of chemical fertilisers.1 In Mexico, coffee-growers who chose to move to fully organic production methods saw increases of 50 per cent in the weight of beans they harvested. In fact, in an analysis of more than 286 organic conversions in 57 countries, the average yield increase was found to be an impressive 64 per cent.2
The situation is more complex in the industrialised world, where farms are large, intensive facilities, and opinions are divided on how organic yields would compare.
Research by the University of Essex in 1999 found that, although yields on US farms that converted to organic initially dropped by between 10 and 15 per cent, they soon recovered, and the farms became more productive than their all-chemical counterparts.3 In the UK, however, a study by the Elm Farm Research Centre...
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