Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

Is Organic Farming a Rotten Idea?

July 09, 2008 07:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
India’s farmers are shying away from modern methods, but critics doubt organic farming’s helpfulness and say food shortages necessitate use of technology to increase yield.

30-Second Summary

Only a tiny fraction—5 percent—of Indian farmers have gone organic, according to US News & World Report. But even modest growth in the sector could have a huge impact on the country’s agricultural industry, at a time of heightened concern over the world’s food supply.

In 1965, the so-called Green Revolution popularized modern farming methods, including the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and helped to alleviate mass hunger in India. But some now say that they are suffering the ill effects, with rampant chemical pollution and cancer and other diseases becoming a growing concern.

“People are fed up with chemical farming,” said Amarjit Sharma to U.S. News & World Report, who began organic farming four years ago. “The Earth is now addicted to the use of these chemicals.”

But the environmental effectiveness of organic farming is still under debate. And the Economist calls the practice “bad news for the poor,” asserting that it yields smaller crops than modern methods.

The New Republic, in a recent blog posting, contests the Economist’s claim, arguing that organic farming’s yield can be equal to or greater than that of industrialized farms: “It’s a model for a more energy-efficient, less toxic form of farming that can, at its best, improve crop yields for farmers in poor countries as well as rich ones. At the same time, it’s only one among many alternative farming practices that a food-strapped country should be considering.”

Headline Link: ‘The Toxic Consequences of the Green Revolution’

Opinion & Analysis: Organic vs. modern farming

Reference: Organic food

Related Topics: ‘Is Local Food Really More Environmentally Friendly?’


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