Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Failure of Understanding?

In an oldish article on Grist, Debbie Barker writes:

It’s an industry-generated myth that ecologically-safe organic agriculture yields less than conventional agriculture. In fact, a comprehensive study comparing 293 crops from industrial and organic growers demonstrates that organic farm yields are roughly comparable to industrial farms in developed countries; and result in much higher yields in the developing world.
But this says
The performance of organic agriculture on production depends on the previous agricultural management system. An over-simplification of the impact of conversion to organic agriculture on yields indicates that:
  • In industrial countries, organic systems decrease yields; the range depends on the intensity of external input use before conversion;
  • In the so-called Green Revolution areas (irrigated lands), conversion to organic agriculture usually leads to almost identical yields;
  • In traditional rain-fed agriculture (with low-input external inputs), organic agriculture has the potential to increase yields.

To be fair, the FAO says: organic agriculture has the potential to feed the world, under the right circumstances.

My point: "decrease yields" is not the same as "roughly comparable"

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