Organic Center challenges view that organic farming lags in sustainability

| December 1, 2014
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Organic farming has many environmental advantages when compared to conventional farming. Organic farming supports biodiversity and soil health, decreases nutrient runoff and has the ability to mitigate climate change. These science-based facts are missed in Henry Miller’s opinion piece “Why Organic Isn’t Sustainable” published in Forbes magazine. Miller is an advocate of genetically modified crops, which are not allowed in organic farming according to USDA rules.

Several of Miller’s points lack sources, and when citations are provided, they often link to papers that do not support his claims. In fact, some of the studies he cites contradict his arguments. This is not the first time The Organic Center has responded to Miller’s opinion pieces. This piece, like his previous articles, should have been fact checked before published.

Miller’s arguments on nitrate runoff, greenhouse gas emissions, yields and compost are not representative of research on organic agriculture.

Miller cherry-picks results from a study published in the Journal of Environmental Management  to claim that organic has negative environmental impacts, yet the study itself actually reports results that support the environmental benefits of organic farming. In fact, the article points out that organic farms “tend to have higher soil organic matter content and lower nutrient losses (nitrogen leaching, nitrous oxide emissions and ammonia emissions) per unit of field area.”

Miller’s article is poorly researched and misses the extensive literature supporting the benefits of organic agriculture in maintaining a healthy planet. It is unfortunate that Miller continues to submit opinion pieces without taking the time to thoroughly research the issue or even ensure that the scientific papers he cites support his claims.

Research suggests that organic agriculture can contribute significantly as a positive, sustainable food source. One study led by University of Michigan professor Catherine Badgley concluded that “organic agriculture has the potential to contribute quite substantially to the global food supply, while reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of conventional agriculture.”

Read full, original blog: Response to ‘Why Organic Isn’t Sustainable’

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