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Are Organics Good For The Environment?

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, February 22, 2007

Because there are no good scientific studies supporting the notion that organically grown foods enhance human health or extend lifespan, advocates of organic agriculture have focused on the environmental benefits of organic farming. Yet a new study just out in the U.K. finds that, carefully considered, some organic farming may be more hazardous to the environment than conventional farming. The Daily Mail had a report:

According to the study, certain organic foodstuffs — such as milk, chicken and tomatoes — produce more greenhouse gases, create more soil and water pollutants and require more energy and land for their production than those farmed by conventional methods…

“You cannot say that all organic food is better for the environment than all food grown conventionally,” said Ken Green, professor of environmental management at Manchester Business School, who conducted the research with the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.

“If you look carefully at the amount of energy required to produce these foods, you get a complicated picture.

“In some cases, the carbon footprint for organics is larger.”

“In particular, organic agriculture poses its own environmental problems in the production of some foods, either in terms of nutrient release to water or in terms of climate change burdens,” the report said.

For example, because organic chickens were reared for longer than battery hens, they had a larger environmental impact. …”

We’ve already taken note of some of the Blunt Talk On Organics In The U.K. and this latest report is just another blow to the organic movement.

The consolidation between Whole Foods and Wild Oats, which we talked about here, is best seen as a restructuring of the organic community in which the core community has certain key institutions such as Whole Foods that are rationalized and preserved, while the great bulk of the U.S. organic business passes to companies such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and Supervalu.

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