organic agriculture

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Organic farmers who use agroecological practices build healthy soil, conserve water, protect pollinators and keep the air and water clear of harmful pesticides. We owe them thanks for this. They also produce bountiful crops.

Yesterday, these hard-working farmers received an important boost of recognition from the scientific community with the release of findings from a major new study comparing the productivity of organic and conventional farming.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Food safety matters to us all, and we all play a role in keeping food safe — from farm to fork. With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalizing new food safety rules, it's critical for farmers and eaters alike to speak up and ensure the agency gets these rules right.

As our friends from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) point out, provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) — if done wrong — run the risk of "putting farmers out of business, limiting consumer choice, and increasing the use of chemicals rather than natural fertilizers."

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Yesterday the American Academy of Pediatrics weighed in on organic food. They found that "an organic diet reduces children's exposure to pesticides," and highlighted studies linking pesticides with many of the childhood health harms included in PAN's recent report, A Generation in Jeopardy.

Unfortunately, media coverage of APA's report has been all over the map. And given the power of headlines to shape public debate in ways that directly impact policymakers' appetite for taking on tough issues, this failure on the part of news desks and editors to report the substance of the science accurately is a serious problem.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Media are all atwitter about a new Nature study by researchers at McGill University and the University of Minnesota that compares organic and conventional yields from 66 studies and over 300 trials. In extrapolating the study's findings to the charged question of how to feed the world, more than a few got it all wrong.

The core finding of the study is that “yield differences [between organic and conventional] are highly contextual, depending on system and site characteristics.” In other words, sometimes organic does better, sometimes conventional does. In fact, the sheer variety of comparisons led Mother Jones columnist Tom Philpott to observe that the study “like a good buffet… offered something for every taste.” 

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

There is nothing “niche” about the recent story on the economics of organic farming in the Agronomy Journal.

The journal reports on an 18-year study demonstrating that organic crop rotation is consistently more profitable than conventional corn and soybean production, even when organic price premiums are cut by half. That is very good news for both organic producers and the agricultural economies in which they operate.