Feed the world? Organic will; GMO won’t: 7 & 8 of 10


Ten and ten are a lot! I’m combining the last few so we can hear from other authors about the growing food crisis – what some have called “peak food,” because of some parallels to Peak Oil. On that note, Anitra wrote a great piece about rising food prices last week with references to related articles.

Having lived in East Asia, where if you don’t eat rice at a meal you don’t feel like you’ve really eaten, I was distressed to find out that rice has increased in price by 74% between January and March of this year. On BBC (for those in Louisville, I don’t mean the Bluegrass Brewing Company!) you can view video snapshots of the global rice supply and the impact on various countries.

At the same time, whether farmers employ organic and sustainable agriculture or corporate-owned and manufactured GMO approaches will greatly impact our world, in this case, the health of our bodies, the soil and our ecosystems. So, good luck with the UK spelling and read on!

Organic YES #7. Ecosystem impact

Farmland accounts for 70 per cent of UK land mass, making it the single most influential enterprise affecting our wildlife. Incentives offered for intensification under the Common Agricultural Policy are largely responsible for negative ecosystem impacts over recent years. Since 1962, farmland bird numbers have declined by an average of 30 per cent. During the same period more than 192,000 kilometres of hedgerows have been removed, while 45 per cent of our ancient woodland has been converted to cropland.

By contrast, organic farms actively encourage biodiversity in order to maintain soil fertility and aid natural pest control. Mixed farming systems ensure that a diversity of food and nesting sites are available throughout the year, compared with conventional farms where autumn sow crops leave little winter vegetation available. Organic production systems are designed to respect the balance observed in our natural ecosystems. It is widely accepted that controlling or suppressing oneelement of wildlife, even if it is a pest, will have unpredictable impacts on the rest of the food chain. Instead, organic producers regard a healthy ecosystem as essential to a healthy farm, rather than a barrier to production.