How Rodale Institute, organic advocates manipulate data to ‘prove’ yields approach conventional farming

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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.

In July a new report by a panel of scientists under the banner IPES FOOD (International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food System) [released] a report entitled “From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems”, penned by Olivier De Schutter, along with a whole host of independent food experts.

The report proclaims that we need a total and global reorganization of the way we produce food, we need to move away from the industrial mindset, monocultures and global markets, an over to to more local production, small inputs, and more coherent thinking. In fact exactly the same as Daniel and Nina Foundation, which paid for the report, said at the outset. What a coincidence.



IPES purports that it is a myth that organic food production has lower yields than modern farming. To underline this point they refer to the organic advocacy group the Rodale Institute’s 30 years of field trials.

..[O]rganic advocates nearly always point to the Rodale field trials when making the case for the equivalency of organic yields to conventional.

But, no, Rodale’s attempts also show exactly the opposite.

In comparing corn yields between organic and conventional in the Rodale trials there is a clever sleight of hand going on. In the organic trial there are years in the rotation where nitrogen-fixing legumes are plowed back into the fields to provide the necessary nitrogen for following years, but these entire years without a yielding crop are not figured into any metric of average annual productivity. … The comparison is simply a head to head comparison of one year’s organic corn yield to one year’s conventional corn yield and the organic comes out equal or even a little bit ahead. But if yields in crop years are equal but one out of every four years in the organic is a nitrogen fixing cover crop year, then system yields of the entire rotation cycle will be 25% lower, if you are doing an honest accounting. …

Related article:  Are organic farms more drought resistant?

. . . .

The Rodale trial has been around for some years, and those who have looked at the numbers conclude that over the eight year cycle organic has 30 percent lower yields than the conventional fields.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Deconstructing How Environmental Groups Mislead on Organics

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