do not need to obsolete technologies like GM to feed the world, a new analysis has shown.
A systematic review of over 100 studies comparing organic and conventional agriculture considers that crop yields from organic farming are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, also found that certain practices could further reduce the productivity gap between organic farming and conventional farming.
The study, to be published online on Wednesday, December 10th at Proceedings of the Royal Society B addresses the persistent perception that agriculture ecological, while offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemically intensive agriculture can not produce enough food to satisfy the appetite of the world.
“In terms of comparing productivity between the two techniques, this paper puts things in the comparison between organic and conventional agriculture,” said lead study author Claire Kremen, a professor of science environment, policy and management and director of the Institute of Food Berkeley cooperation.
“With world food needs I expected to increase significantly over the next 50 years, which is critical to look closer to organic farming because, apart from the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, . ability of synthetic fertilizers to increase crop yield has been declining “
the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 115 studies – a data set three times previously published work – Comparison between organic and conventional farming. They discovered that organic yields are approximately 19.2% lower than conventional, less than previous estimates difference.
indicated that the available studies comparing cultivation methods tend to have a bias in favor of conventional agriculture, so this estimate of the performance gap is likely overestimated. They also found that taking into account the methods that optimize the productivity of organic agriculture could minimize the achievement gap. They specifically highlighted two agricultural practices – multiple cropping (multiple harvests together in the same field) and crop rotation -. Substantially reduce the gap to 9%-conventional organic performance and 8%, respectively
Yields also depended on the type of crop, the researchers found. There were no significant differences in organic and conventional yields for crops of legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils.
“Our study suggests that through appropriate agroecological research to improve organizational management and breeding cultivars for organic farming systems investments, the yield gap could be reduced or even eliminated in the case of some cultures or regions, “said lead author of the study, Lauren Ponisio, a graduate student in environmental science, policy and management. “This is especially true if imitate nature by creating ecologically diverse farms that take advantage of important ecological interactions such as nitrogen fixers benefits of intercropping or cover-crop with legumes.”
The researchers suggest that organic agriculture can be a very competitive alternative to industrial agriculture when it comes to food production.
“It is important to remember that our current agricultural system generated far more food than is needed to provide everyone on the planet,” Kremen said. “The eradication of world hunger requires increasing access to food, not just production. In addition, increasing the share of agriculture that uses sustainable, organic methods of agriculture is not an option, it is a necessity. We just can not continue to produce food in the future without taking care of our soil, water and biodiversity. “
of course, in addition to feeding the world, organic could also help provide nutrient-dense foods more. A recent study by the University of Newcastle, for example, found that organic foods had higher levels of some antioxidants that promote health . Organic products also reduces our exposure to harmful pesticides residues in food.
The research comes at a time when the EU is prepared to allow Member States to make their own decisions about whether to plant GM crops or not. The final vote is in January 2015. In the UK this means we could see the first transgenic crops planted before the end of the year.