Michaelle sufficient method to feed the world opposed to

Michaelle Destinoble

Dr. Jonathan Rolling

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Bioethics-314

January 31, 2018

 

No Organic Farming Cannot Feed the
World

Introduction

It
is evident that the world is quickly transitioning and expanding in regards to population.
Thus globally resulting in a greater population size as opposed to the past. Due
to the rapid population growth, there are numerous concerns in regards to if current
resources such as food are able to withstand. The world’s current population is
6.2 billion but is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. Thus probing the
question, which form of agriculture would be more beneficial and sustaining for
the growing population; organic or conventional? Analyses have found that the
carrying capacity of Organic Agriculture (OA) using current organic methods to
be 3-4 billion,  clearly illustrating the
imbalanced ratio between organic agriculture and its lack of ability to supply
the current population.(2) It is evident that Organic agriculture is not a sufficient
method to feed the world opposed to current conventional food. Organic farming
is not capable of feeding all individuals globally due to a few reasons three
of which include yield, labor and cost.

1.     
Yield

Organic
agriculture is stated to currently occupy 0.3 % of agricultural land, most
which is in developed countries.(2) The switch to OA would have different impacts
on various parts of the world, benefiting some and harmful to others. Developing
countries would benefit more from the expansion of OA, studies have illustrated
that the conversion from chemical fertilizer to green manures and nitrogen fixating
legumes have responded by increasing the yield in crops. It was found that in
an analysis of 286 organic conversions in a total of 57 countries, the average
yield increased to about 64%. Contrary to the impressive yield in less
developed countries, those that are more industrially developed would face difficulties
which was illustrated from the UK’S Soil Association, which stated that on
average organic yields are lower than non-organic by a given 30%. (5)

Environmental scientist of McGill University and University of
Minnesota performed an analysis on 66 completed studies, in which they
compared conventional and organic methods across 34 different crop species. Dr. Verena
Seufert stated that overall, organic yields are considerably lower than
conventional yields. That being stated, OA is not effective on all crops but
rather produces a higher yield in a select group as opposed to others. (1)

 

2.     
Labor

Organic
agriculture requires a large amount of labor and regulation to produce a sufficient
proportion of good quality crops. There are various social, environmental and
economic concerns present such as constant maintenance of soil condition,
nutrient supply, pest control, weeds, disease product quality, safety, human
labor and offsite environmental effects or interference. (2)

In
a developed country such as the U.S the current agriculture workforce is 2% in
comparison to Afghanistan which is 62%. (6) Hence why the conversion to OA
would be more beneficial for developing countries as opposed to developed. The
miniscule percentage of workers in agriculture within the U.S illustrates that if
conversion to all organics were possible it would require re-education of an entire
population. This education on how to treat and grow organic crops would be
necessary to obtain employment in agriculture if the world were to convert to
this type of agriculture because OA requires skill and knowledge which a vast
majority of Americans do not have in this sector. This job or employment shift would
result in loss of productivity and growth in other careers due to the fact that
worldwide OA would be crucially demanding in labor.

 

3.     
Cost

Organic
agriculture is not capable of feeding the world due to its cost.  Organic products typically cost 20% to 100% more
than their conventionally produced equivalents. Due to the fact that OA does
not utilize synthetic chemicals and pesticides they require more labor. Without
the use of synthetics, organic farmers hire more workers for tasks like
hand-weeding, crop rotation, cleaning polluted water, and the remediation of
pesticide contamination. As mentioned previously OA occupies less than 0.5% of
agricultural space as opposed to conventional, therefore when the demand is
above the supply there tends to be an increase in cost as a result. According to
the USDA organic food sales rose
from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $21.1 billion in 2008. (5)

 

 

4.     
Conclusion

The theory that OA could sustain and support the
global population is invalid. It is invalid due to a series of reasons, a few listed
are OA yield, labor and cost. OA’s yield is variant depending on location and
due to this factor it has been stated that if OA conversion were to occur it
would be detrimental for developed countries as opposed to less industrialized.
In addition OA requires more labor that conventional methods and that would
result in mass re-education of various groups ranging from graduates with
studies that are not agriculture related, conventional farmer’s etc. thus
affecting productivity in other job or sectors. Lastly due to the labor
intensive requirement of OA, it would result in an increase in cost 20-100%
more than conventional products.  

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cite

1.      Biello, David. “Will Organic Food Fail to Feed the
World?” Scientific American, 25 Apr. 2012, www.scientificamerican.com/article/organic-farming-yields-and-feeding-the-world-under-climate-change/

2.     
Connor, David J.
“Organic Agriculture Cannot Feed the World.” Field Crops Research, Elsevier, 14
Jan. 2008

 

3.     
Cornell Alliance
for Science “Organic Farming Can Feed the World – until You Read the Small
Print.”, 22 Nov. 2017, allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/organic-farming-can-feed-world–until-you-read-small-print.

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378429007002481?via%3Dihub.

 

4.     
FOX News Network “10
Reasons Organic Food Is so Expensive.”, www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2012/03/11/10-reasons-organic-food-is-so-expensive.html

 

5.     
Hammer, Ed, and
Mark Anslow. “10 Reasons Why Organic Can Feed the World.” The Ecologist, 17
Nov. 2017, theecologist.org/2008/mar/01/10-reasons-why-organic-can-feed-world.

6.     
The World Bank.
International Labor Organization “Employment in Agriculture % of Total
Employment. ILO Estimate.”, ILOSTAT, Mar. 2017,
data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS.

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