At this moment in the earth's history, we are closing in on being in a calorie per acre race against starvation. I know food shortages have been predicted for years/decades and we have not seen them (at least in the US) yet. But population is rising, and in the most optimistic scenario arable land would be a fixed commodity (it's not, we have less each year). At some point, the math takes over.

Part of the hidden cost of organic farming is the production lost. You can't grow 200 bushel an acre corn or 60 bushel an acre soybeans or 50 bushel an acre wheat "organically".

Organic farming can be economically feasible for certain crops in certain situations. I don't see it being able to replace "modern agriculture" in production capacity.

Chris Cooper comments:

Perhaps organic farming has some benefits. According to this study, strawberries grown "organically" are better.

Ken Drees adds:

Isn't the premium paid for organic foods more than enough to compensate for yield? Of course this is not regarding staples, but for boutiques?

An organic radish commands a higher premium then a pesticide radish to the right consumer. So the cost of input to the radish crop is covered in both cases and then health benefits are the "kicker" that can not really be proven and are thus under the umbrella of cult. 





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1 Comment so far

  1. Gregory Rehmke on September 15, 2010 8:55 am

    I think we can expect new technology to push food production further forward. The article on factory Perch, below, is one example of the nearly limitless ability to produce food indoors with technology and energy. There are similar examples on a hundred food fronts. The fish industry in China is booming though lacks the rule of law foundations (which we can hope will develop).

    Perch return to local waters - in old factory

    Another aquatics story:

    And then there is the option of farming the ocean, which just requires better property rights institutions. So land may very well become more scarce. But even if for some reason productivity increases stall, markets will move to new nutrition producing alternatives.


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