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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this opinion piece, Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist at Stanford University, writes that while some tout organic farming as a sustainable way to feed the planet’s expanding population, the evidence argues otherwise. Organic farming, he says, could work well for certain local environments on a small scale, but such farms produce far less food per unit of land and water than conventional ones. Organic agriculture’s low yields, he adds, impose various stresses on farmland and especially on water consumption. He cites a British meta-analysis that found "ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems" than conventional farming systems, as were "land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit." Increasing the scale of organic production, he argues, would increase the pressure for the conversion of more land to farming and more water for irrigation, both of which are serious environmental issues. Miller also states that organic farming’s exclusion of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is illogical and unsustainable. He writes: “the exclusion from organic agriculture of organisms simply because they were crafted with modern, superior techniques makes no sense.” Miller concludes: “In recent decades, we have seen advances in agriculture that have been more environmentally friendly and sustainable than ever before. But they have resulted from science-based research and technological ingenuity by farmers, plant breeders and agribusiness companies, not from social elites opposed to modern insecticides, herbicides, genetic engineering and ‘industrial agriculture.’”

Posted May 16th, 2014