The Economist has this article discussing the latest trends in ‘green’ foods like organic farming and buying local. I am regularly reminded of the article when I hear people advocating organic farming, etc.
If you look at the whole picture, organic farming is not as good as it seems.
- Farming is bad for the environment – that is a given.
- We need to minimize the impact of farming, but still feed the masses.
- Organic farming is not nearly as efficient as that assisted (even responsibly) by synthetic fertilizers, genetic modification, etc
- Therefore, unless you want people to starve, it is better to use more intensive (non-organic) farming methods
- The alternative is to farm more land which would have disastrous impacts on the environment
For instance, the article points out that:
Global cereal production tripled between 1950 and 2000, but the amount of land used increased by only 10%. Using traditional techniques would have required a tripling of the area under cultivation.
It’s great that people are willing to make the effort to “go green”. But you have to look at the bigger picture when evaluating the impact of your actions.