The Pinke Post: No, organic farming is not better for the planet

Recent studies show organic farming is worse off for the climate. Organic farming increases land use, creating an uptick in deforestation for organic land production and emits more greenhouse gases clearing the land.

Edward Fett of Lennox, S.D., says the organic grains market is being ruined by fraudulent imports which he thinks could bring down U.S. consumer confidence as well. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service
Moldboard plowing is seldom seen today, but organic farmer Edward Fett of Lennox, S.D., used one in November 2017 to bury waterhemp and pigweed seed, which -- like turnip and radish -- is small, like pepper flakes. He feels if he plows it under at 5 inches it will decay. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

Recent studies show organic farming is worse off for the climate. Organic farming increases land use, creating an uptick in deforestation for organic land production and emits more greenhouse gases clearing the land.

Published in Science Daily from December 2018, Stefan Wirsenius, of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden said, "Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50 percent bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas. For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference - for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70 percent," Wirsenius was one of the researchers responsible for the international study.

Greater land use for organic production also sees a decrease in yields. A recent study by the Cranfield University in England shows the bad news - a decrease of 40% of food production if the United Kingdom were to switch all of its farming to organic. A 40% decrease in production increases the need for importing food and naturally causes hungry people. Less access to affordable food is not the answer for a growing global population. According to the MIT Technology Review article published Oct. 22, the switch to 100% organic practices would require 1.5 times more land to make up for the declines, which would add up to nearly five times more land than England and Wales currently rely on for food.

I trust science. I also do not advocate for one farming practice over another practice. We need all types of farming and food choices.

But organic marketing machines have brilliantly created the impression that organic is better than conventional farming and all organic food is better for you than conventional choices. Do not fall for false marketing.


Do not ignore facts and science.

Read the Nature Communications study pointing to organic farming production is actually worse for climate change. Some of you against this very topic will not read the study and instead send me links to bogus, non-scientific studies or call me a "big ag" or "factory farm" supporter.

I am not big ag. I am a lifelong supporter of agriculture, all types, and practices. Some are more efficient than others. Others make choices for their farms or ranches based on their land, need for diversification or prices offered for specific crops. Whatever the reason a farm is organic or conventional, or both, is not my place to judge.

No matter the type of farming practice, there is not a factory farm I have seen. I am well-traveled from a career in agriculture communications and have visited farms and farmers of all sizes and types across North America and in Germany.

Just as I go to the grocery store to purchase food to feed my family, farmers choose what type of crops and farming practices they have on their farm.

No politician or country should take that freedom away from farmers and it is why scientists are conducting studies to show the facts.

The studies show that organic farming is not more sustainable. Organic farming is not better for the climate.

Organic meat and dairy also require to be fed more grass and organically raised grains, also not a more sustainable or better use of global resources when it takes more land and water to produce the same products conventional farming and ranching raises.


If you march right up to your organic aisle at your grocery store, or visit an organic food market and choose to spend your money on food that is more expensive because of the cost of production, you get to. It's your food choice and one you can celebrate in your first world choices.

But, if you're like me and want to feed more people and don't want to spend more than I have to on food, it's OK to choose conventionally raised foods. No matter what politicians or organic only friends are saying, you are not harming the environment or contributing to an increase in climate change by purchasing conventionally raised foods.

And to the farmers raising conventional crops, farm on. Keep working your ground by implementing new technology that decreases water use and passes on your field, increasing the sustainability of farming for the future. Your farming choices and practices are appreciated and noticed.

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