Industry says we need conventional/GMO farming to feed the world. Here’s why they’re wrong.
David Montgomery, PhD, professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, recently pointed out that regenerative farming practices that restore fertility to soil will be the key to the future of agriculture.
Consider these facts:
- Family farms produce three-quarters of the world’s food;
- Three-quarters of the world’s farms are smaller than one hectare (about the size of a city block);
- Small, diversified farms produce more than twice as much food per acre than industrialized farms. This is partly because smaller farms use less pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than industrialized farms.
- A 2015 meta-analysis found that industrialized farm yields were only about 10% higher than organic farm yields. This yield gap is much smaller than the amount of food that is wasted every year, which is as high as 40%.
The findings of the US National Research Council add further weight to Prof. Montgomery’s conclusions. Even if conventional farming currently helps feed the developed world, there are external costs to industrialized farming practices that cannot be ignored. Discussing a 2010 report on the future of US agriculture, the researchers said,
Many modern agricultural practices have unintended negative consequences, such as destruction of soils, erosion, and decreased water and air quality, and farmers have to consider these consequences while trying to increase production. If farmers are going to meet future demands, the US agriculture system has to evolve to become sustainable and think broadly—past the bottom line of producing the most possible.
This doesn’t take into account the impact on human health of industrialized farming, including the harmful effects of synthetic herbicides and pesticides and widespread vitamin and mineral deficiency, since the soil, and therefore our food, is depleted of nutrients as a result of monocropping.
Read Dr. Montgomery’s article here.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: