This short blog entitled “Organic Can Feed the World” in The Atlantic by Barry Estabrook is a must read. Refreshingly, he puts the responsibility on conventional agriculture to prove how it can feed the world’s population:
Given that the current food production system, which is really a 75-year-old experiment, leaves nearly one billion of the world’s seven billion humans seriously undernourished today, the onus should be on the advocates of agribusiness to prove their model can feed a future population of nine billion — not the other way around.
Estabrock cites (with links) several conclusive studies that make the case for not only the feasibility but the necessity for a global shift to organic, agroecological, and other sustainable farming systems to maintain and increase yields and increase food nutrient density. He states that a literature review by the British Soil Association found that all 98 of the papers reviewed concluded that organic agriculture does in fact have the capability to feed the world.
Importantly for both the long-term health of the planet and the economic security of farmers, organic systems are also proven to improve soil fertility, cut costs on chemical inputs, and save energy. Finally, research is increasingly demonstrating that organic methods sequester more carbon than conventional systems, can buffer against climate change impacts, and can help farmers be more resilient in the face of intensifying climate challenges.
Organic agriculture has for decades been the underdog not because the science can’t support it but because there are powerful interests protecting the failing industrial agriculture experiment. Changing policies, financial incentives, and the subsidies that prop up unsustainable practices is part of the solution to ensuring a sustainable food future.