In this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhOrIUlrnPo) we looked at the key principles of organic farming – the use of more natural alternatives instead of chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides or feed additives for livestock. This all sounds great, but there is more to the story. Organic farming isn’t all good. The yields are lower because more produce is damaged by pests, and carefully selected chemical pesticides cannot be used. With an ever-growing world population, we have limited land to feed everyone from. So should we therefore just focus on maximising yields? Or to get the same yields, more land would need to be farmed. Where would this surplus land come from – cutting down our remaining forests and rainforests? This would be far worse for the environment both in terms of climate change and biodiversity. A study in the UK found that a litre of organic milk requires 80% more land than conventional milk to produce. That’s a lot more land, and makes you wonder whether organic foods are a luxury the world just cannot afford to provide. Interestingly, it has been found that some organic farming methods require more water than non-organic alternatives; a huge problem as droughts become more regular and water more scarce. Organic is not necessarily better for the environment either. Organic dairy farms do actually produce more methane per cow than conventional farms because of the diet of the cattle: organic cows apparently burp twice as much as conventional cows!! As methane is a greenhouse gas, this does not bode well for global warming. You also need to consider the airmiles of your produce… in the UK most of the organic food is imported, so if there is a conventionally farmed alternative from a local source then it may be better for the environment to opt for […]
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