The Potential for Organic Agriculture to Feed the World is Being Oversold

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Abstract:

For many years the conventional view has been that a widespread conversion to organic farming practices would mean starvation around the world because the organic methods would result in considerably less crop yield in comparison to current farming methods that rely on pesticides to control damaging pest populations. This conventional view has been challenged recently by advocates of organic agriculture who claim that organic agriculture can feed the world with comparable crop yields. These advocates cite articles that have compiled research results that compare yields between organic test plots and pesticide-treated plots. They claim that these research results show comparable yields and therefore conclude that organic agriculture could be adopted to feed the world. The most recent article to compile these research studies was published in 2007. However, a close examination of the studies cited in these compilations shows serious misinterpretations of the experiments leading to the unwarranted conclusion that organic agriculture can feed the world.

Keywords: AFRICA; CONVENTIONAL FARMING; HAND-WEEDING; HUNGER; ORGANIC FARMING; YIELD COMPARISONS; YIELD LOSS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1564/20feb02

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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