A study out of Denmark says that a shift to large-scale organic farming could help feed the poor and be good for the environment.
Crop yields initially can drop as much as 50 percent when industrialized, conventional agriculture using chemical fertilizers and pesticides is converted to organic. While such decreases often even out over time, the figures have kept the organic movement largely on the sidelines of discussions about feeding the hungry.
Researchers in Denmark found, however, that food security for sub-Saharan Africa would not be seriously harmed if 50 percent of agricultural land in the food exporting regions of Europe and North America were converted to organic by 2020.
While total food production would fall, the amount per crop would be much smaller than previously assumed, and the resulting rise in world food prices could be mitigated by improvements in the land and other benefits, the study found.
I'm always curious when these studies blithely blip over "food prices could rise." My question is, "how much?" If a loaf of bread goes from $1.80 to $5, that's a rise that would severely hurt the poor.
I am impressed that the scientists have come up with a model that wouldn't have us starving millions to switch to organic farming. One of the concerns I've had about organics and trying to buy only organics is the expense involved, and I've questioned whether switching large farms could be practical. This study seems to support the idea that we could produce roughly as much food and not use harmful chemicals. That is good news!