The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Not Only Is Chemical Farming Bad, It's Worse

Two lovely stories today that I will quote liberally for you. First, the results of a 30-year exhaustive study comparing chemical and organic farm yields are in: organic farming isn't just healthier, it's higher-yielding, and earns the farmer more dollars per acre.

This story is a follow-up on the rather despairing piece I wrote about the state of "conventional" (or as I have taken to calling it, chemical) farming. Here are some hilights.

  1. after a three-year transition period, organic yields equalled conventional yields
  2. Organic corn yields were 31 per cent higher than conventional in years of drought
  3. organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems
  4. no-till conventional corn was the least profitable
  5. farmers who cultivated GM varieties earned less money over a 14-year period than those who continued to grow non-GM crops
  6. Organic systems used 45 per cent less energy than conventional
  7. Production efficiency was 28 per cent higher in the organic systems
  8. Soil health in the organic systems has increased over time
You can read the whole article, but this kinda sums up the wisdom:
With results like these, why does conventional wisdom favour chemical farming? Vested interests. Organic farming keeps more money on the farm and in rural communities and out of the pockets of chemical companies. As the major funders of research centres and universities, and major advertisers in the farm media, they effectively buy a pro-chemical bias.
The other article is a brief news release from the UN HiCom for Human Rights. The lead line sums it up:
Small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods, a new UN report* shows. Based on an extensive review of the recent scientific literature, the study calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest.
So, what's to be done? Clearly something to do with weaning ourselves off chemicals and back on to taking care of the soil.

You can see the whole UN report here. To my Chinese friends, check here.

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