How organic farming can save the planet — and your health

In 1820, Thomas Malthus predicted the world population would eventually outgrow its ability to grow enough food to feed itself. The big agro-giant Monsanto, which makes Roundup, uses this dire prediction to justify its unhealthy “advances” in farming, including using genetically modified (GM) seeds.

Technical “advances” have led to some greater gross crop yields. But the actual nutrient content of food crops has declined every decade over the past century, according to analyses performed by the USDA. I first observed this fact when studying green, leafy vegetables and yellow-orange vegetables during the 1980s as sources of all-important carotenoids, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

So, big agro-business has kept up with the demand for more food crops, but the quality of the crops has declined dramatically.

The good news is, Nature — as usual — has a better alternative.

GM crops grow no better than organic crops, despite propaganda

Monsanto claims using genetically modified crops will solve the problem of feeding the world in the 21st century. But according to a new study called the Farming Systems Trial (FST) at the Rodale Institute, organic farming performs just as well as, if not better than, conventional chemical farming.

This study began back in 1981 to observe what happens during a transition from chemical to organic agriculture. The results should silence critics who discounted traditional, organic farming practices in favor of modern agro-technology that uses chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other artificial agents and agriculture practices.

The study shows that organic farming is far more resilient, higher-yielding, more energy efficient, and even more profitable. Here are some side-by-side comparisons.

-Organic gross crop yields match conventional chemical crop yields

-Organic crops outperform conventional crops during years of drought

-Organic farming builds up, instead of depleting, organic matter in soil — one of the factors that makes organic farming more sustainable, and makes crops more nutritious

-Organic farming uses 45 percent less energy

-Organic farming produces 45 percent fewer greenhouse gases

-Finally, organic farming is even more profitable than conventional

Besides the Rodale Institute, several universities have done similar organic vs. conventional chemical farming comparisons. And they all came to the same conclusions. Organic farming consistently proves to be more sustainable. It builds more fertile soil over time instead of depleting soil, producing more nutritious crops. It’s just as productive in crops yields. And it’s even more profitable. Organic foods also have better nutrient content as shown in yet many other studies.

Organic farming also does better with uncertain or extreme weather patterns, the growing scarcity and expense of energy supplies, restrictions on water supplies for irrigation, and a growing population. In addition to producing more nourishing food, organic farming better withstands the environmental challenges to feed people, without destroying the environment.

Conventional farming advocates try to convince us that we need high-tech, GM agriculture to feed more people. They try to claim that “millions will die” without their form of franken-agriculture. But it’s just not true, as the Rodale study and others prove.  The real question is how many will keep dying from using conventional chemical agriculture.

It’s not just a question of quantity but quality as well.

Conventional farming: bad for people, bad for the environment

As I often warn, the pesticides needed to grow GM crops kill bees, butterflies, birds. And the genetic modifications introduce “franken-genes” into plants that could ultimately alter and destroy the ecology of the entire planet.

Of course, the FDA has given GM foods and GM seeds a “free pass” on safety. But nobody really knows if they’re safe for human health because FDA never required Monsanto to conduct studies to demonstrate safety one way or the other.

Federal food labeling law pushes back in the wrong direction

Most Americans favor requiring manufacturers to label foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And Vermont became to the first state to pass a new law requiring it. The Vermont law even prompted some major companies to add GMO labels on — and in some cases entirely remove GMO ingredients from — their products nationwide.

But then, the big crony capitalist federal government stepped in and ruined it all — again.

In August, President Obama signed a federal GMO labeling law. The law allows companies to inform consumers in one of three ways whether a product contains a GMO.

First, they can actually present the information on the product label. Or, they can share GMO disclosures in barcodes that you must scan on your smartphone. Worse yet, the law even allows food makers to print an 800 number on the package, so consumers must make a phone call to get more information. Calling an 800 number is what we do in an emergency to reach Poison Control Centers.

The Obama administration says the new bill promotes GMO transparency, which is what Americans want. No, President Obama. This is not what Americans want.

As for the bigger picture, remember organic farming CAN support the population and the planet. Especially in times of drought. Don’t believe the franken-food advocates and their monstrous claims, or their crony capitalist political co-dependents.

Remember during this month’s harvest, when hearing the strains of “shine on, shine on, Harvest moon…” you can tell them all to go “shine it on.”


Permaculture Magazine, June 10, 2015