The Economist Magazine is Wrong – Organic Food Can Feed the World

Written by Max Goldberg on March 7, 2011. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

The Economist magazine recently did a special report on the The Future of Food. I would characterize it as despicable, not surprising and shocking all at once. There are many different sections in the report and it is worth a read.

Organic food isn’t even considered as an option for feeding the world. The solution they propose is to boost yields through better genetically-modified seeds and to put more animals into restrictive cages so that they can grow faster.

This is the main problem we have in the organic industry. The media pounds on us that this is the only solution to feeding everyone. I hear it all the time.

What people need to understand, however, is that this is a completely flawed argument. Do not believe the hype for one second.

Even though The Economist acknowledges that climate change could disrupt future food production, its solution did not take into account the disastrous environmental consequences that GM-seeds and chemicals cause.

* According to the EPA, we put 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides into our soil each year. Not only do these chemicals kill the soil quality and deliver very non-nutritious food but manufacturing chemicals is very, very energy intensive — which contributes to global warming.

* The pesticides also poison our water supply. According to the Pesticide Action Network, USDA tests have found 59 pesticide residues in our water supply. These pesticides are hormone disruptors, known or probable carcinogens, and/or neurotoxins.

The New York Times recently documented the abysmal quality of our water supply.

* GM-seeds and their pesticides are causing superweeds, a major problem.

Organic Food is The Only Solution

The logical question that people ask is: Don’t GM-seeds raise yields?

* Well, if you ask Professor Catherine Badgley at the University of Michigan, her answer for developing countries is a resounding No.

In her research, she says that developing countries that switch to organic food production achieve improvements in yield ratios of 1.736 (for sugars) to as much as 3.995 (for legumes).  So, we are talking about roughly 2-4x yield improvement.

* Using pesticides and GM-seeds is not sustainable, according to several U.N. agencies and the World Bank. They brought together more than 400 scientists and development experts from 80 countries over four years to produce the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

What did they conclude? That our “reliance on resource-extractive industrial agriculture is risky and unsustainable, particularly in the face of worsening climate, energy, and water crises.”

* Furthermore, many developing countries don’t want want to depend on GM-seeds and foreign capital/technology to grow their food. A perfect example of this was when Haitians burned seeds gifted by Monsanto.

My Conclusion from The Economist’s Report

* I think the solution was flawed, and the magazine displayed incredible arrogance to not even consider organic. The environmental and nutritional consequences of GM-seeds and chemicals were totally dismissed.

*It is just another example of how Monsanto and others are able to convince the media that organic is not a viable option.

*Aside from The Economist’s solution, which I disagree with 100%, the number of people that we have to feed (9 billion by 2050) is staggering.

The statistics about how much food we need are alarming and they make you believe that food prices are only going in one direction — up. If global warming severely disrupts farming schedules and seasons, prices will be astronomical.

Learn More

* If you want to learn more about this subject, I strongly suggest that you read Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto and watch the movie The Future of Food, which details the dangers of genetically-modified seeds and the incredible power that Monsanto has accumulated over our food supply — scary but very important for people to know about.

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Organic is the only way to feed the world and don’t let people tell you otherwise. Seed companies and politicians who think that we can beat Mother Nature are very, very mistaken.

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