Filed Under: Organic Activists

Evidence Mounts: Organic Crops Underperform

A few months ago, researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands found unsurprisingly that conventionally produced crops out-yielded organic crops. More research has confirmed this finding: Researchers from McGill University in Canada writing in Nature found that “organic yields are typically lower than conventional yields.”

The researchers reviewed the scientific literature and determined that conventional yields were up to 34 percent higher than organic yields. Notably, according to a Nature online news supplement the researchers found that “Organic agriculture performs particularly poorly for vegetables and some cereal crops such as wheat, which make up the lion’s share of the food consumed around the world.”

So, as organic food’s “health halo” lies shattered, new evidence keeps piling up that modern technology, not fashionable food ideology, provides a way to feed an ever-growing population. Even claims that people can avoid pesticides by buying organic food have been proven bunk. Those “organic” pesticides are still pesticides, after all.

Of course, typical levels of both organic and conventional pesticides found on fruit and vegetable skins are so low that the risks of sickness are vanishingly small, and a few more seconds under the faucet should make even those concerns vanish. But that doesn’t stop the usual enviro-activist suspects from raising a stink over trace amounts of conventional (but not organic) chemicals on produce.

Therefore it shouldn’t surprise anybody that organic movement leader Peter Melchett once said, “Science doesn’t tell us the answers so some of it we have to go on feelings.” When the science is against you, you go on whatever you’ve got.

When the world is presented with the task of feeding a growing world population, science might just be a better bet than some elite Western “feelings.” As one Foreign Policy magazine writer noted: “Without [a scientific system of food production], our food would be more expensive and less safe. In other words, a lot like the hunger-plagued rest of the world.” In the case of organics, we’re all too often left with empty rhetoric and false notions.

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