Organic vs. Conventional Agriculture--Which is Better?

Can organic agriculture feed the world? A new study published in Nature concludes that organic crop yields are generally lower than conventional agriculture. This is particularly true for cereals, which are staples of the human diet. However, the yield gap is much less significant for other crops, such as soybeans and fruits.

Although organic techniques may not be able to feed the world alone, they do have an important role in feeding a growing global population while minimizing environmental damage.

“To achieve sustainable food security we will likely need many different techniques including organic, conventional, and possible ‘hybrid’ systems—to produce more food at affordable prices, ensure the livelihood of farmers, and reduce the environmental costs of agriculture,” the researchers said. The results point to a need to get beyond the black-and- white, ideological debates that often pit advocates of organic and local foods against proponents of conventional agriculture.