The Importance of Organic Farming

Mar 09, 2016 07:12 PM EST | By Josine Macaspac (


Organic farming has previously been regarded as ineffective against world hunger, but recent developments might just have made it the solution to this problem. One of the most extensive studies to ever be conducted on this unconventional practice came up with this conclusion, gathered from data from researches spanning over forty years.

Professor John Reganold of Washington State University led the study; and its conclusion conflicts with Britain's Food Standards Agency, which has openly and constantly spoken against chemical-free agriculture. It reinforces the theory that organic farming is more profitable and productive than traditional farming, particularly in developing countries, and it could also address climate change.

This study was published last month in the Nature Plants journal, and there it "admits that 'organic agriculture has a history of being contentious' and is still considered by its many critics as 'an inefficient approach to food security and a farming system that will be become less relevant in the future'."

It quoted Earl Butz, an Agriculture Secretary in the 1970s, as saying "Before we go back to organic agriculture in this country, somebody must decide which 50 million Americans we are going to let starve or go hungry".

According to the study, organic food and beverages "is now a rapidly growing market segment in the global food industry", seeing that in a span of 14 years, sales increased to around $72 billion. Organic farming is now certified and is being practiced in 170 countries, and was described by the incumbent US Agriculture Secretary as "one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture" driven by "growing consumer demand."

One of the more prominent setbacks in organic farming is that it yields lesser produce than traditional, chemically driven farming. But a recent study conducted by the University of California concluded that this problem could be addressed my crop rotation and veering away from monoculture.

At the end of the day, it might be climate change itself that may propel organic farming forward. As Professor Reganold's study emphasizes, "Organically managed farms have frequently been shown to produce higher yields than their conventional counterparts" in times of drought, because the manure being used maintains more moisture in the soil. Given the extreme climate the world is experiencing nowadays, brutally dry conditions are anticipated in numerous areas.

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