Organic and conventional: can’t we all just get along?

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Geni Wren A July 18 Scientific American blog by science writer Christie Wilcox does some mythbusting about organic and conventional farming. Wilcox doesn’t bash organic farming but she does uncover some facts that are not always apparent to the consuming public.

I don’t care if people want to spend their money on organic items or conventionally-produced food. Personally I won’t spend extra money on organic when I don’t believe there is a greater benefit. That’s based on what I’ve read and researched and is my own opinion.

Wilcox, a PhD student in cell and molecular biology at the University of Hawaii, lays out some interesting facts, references and resources for her mythbusting, such as just because something is organic, does not mean it necessarily is pesticide free.  She writes: “... there are over 20 chemicals commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops that are approved by the US Organic Standards. And, shockingly, the actual volume usage of pesticides on organic farms is not recorded by the government. Why the government isn’t keeping watch on organic pesticide and fungicide use is a damn good question, especially considering that many organic pesticides that are also used by conventional farmers are used more intensively than synthetic ones due to their lower levels of effectiveness.”

Another myth Wilcox busts is that organic farming is better for the environment. “Organic farming practices use less synthetic pesticides which have been found to be ecologically damaging,” she writes. “But factory organic farms use their own barrage of chemicals that are still ecologically damaging, and refuse to endorse technologies [such as GMOs] that might reduce or eliminate the use of these all together.”

Everyone can make up their own mind whether they want to buy organic or conventionally produced food. But each side bashing the other is more about marketing than fact. Organic is another production method and I say good for those producers who want to produce crops, meat and milk that way and get paid a premium for it. But I also tip my hat to conventional producers who are producing those same products using efficiency and technology so we can have an abundant and affordable food supply.

To each his own.

Read Wilcox’s full article here.



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