Contrary to widespread consumer belief, organic farming is not the best way to farm from an environmental point of view. The guiding principle of organic is to rely exclusively on natural inputs. That was decided early in the 20th century, decades before before the scientific disciplines of toxicology, environmental studies and climate science emerged to inform our understanding of how farming practices impact the environment. As both farming and science have progressed, there are now several cutting edge agricultural practices which are good for the environment, but difficult or impossible for organic farmers to implement within the constraints of their pre-scientific rules.
From a fascinating post by plant pathologist S.D. Savage, in which he gives six reasons why organic agriculture is not the most environmentally friendly way to farm.
People interested in food policy (PPS590 students, even though your term paper is due tonight, this means you) should read Savage’s post in full, but if you are in a hurry, here are those six reasons: Continue reading →