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  #51  
Old 09-13-2019, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
Were it not, the FDA, which really does know what it's doing most of the time, would not have allowed it on the market.
Well....yeah. Pretty much. I wouldn't make sweeping claims, as some of it is bad for you because it is (I'm thinking of stuff like corn syrup but that's just one example), but it isn't bad because it's genetically modified...it's just overused and cheap.

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Originally Posted by Deeg
Most of the opposition in this thread is not directly related to GMOs. Viewing a farm as a whole organism and employing crop rotation can be done with GMO just as easily as non-GMO. Using GMOs just gives you a bigger toolbox.

My problem with organic farming is that it's less efficient; 80% to 66% less efficient, depending on who you believe. If all farms in the US were to go organic we'd need a sizable increase in farmland and that comes with its own environmental impact.

I would think it be much better if the principles of organic farming were joined with the latest scientific breakthroughs in agriculture, and that includes GMO.
Pretty much this as far as the secondary discussion goes. Organic is, IMHO, just a rich person affectation. There isn't any evidence that it's better (i.e. healthier) for a person than it's GMO (and cheaper) alternatives, just that it costs more and fits with a certain demographic who think it helps the earth or something. What it generally does is just be less efficient and cost more, though, again, I wouldn't say that's across the board. But the whole GMO bugaboo has probably cost lives in the 3rd world, just like the anti-vaxers message. It's all about 1st world exceptionalism and, frankly, an overly rich society that can afford the affectation. Again, IMHO (and realizing the irony that I AM actually making sweeping claims here ).

Anyway, doesn't seem much of a debate. I don't think we have any really rabid anti-GMO types, just a few 'dopers who have mildly bought into the organic hype and have mild aversions to the thought of GMO and large mega-agricultural corporations.
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  #52  
Old 09-13-2019, 10:31 PM
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Organic is, IMHO, just a rich person affectation. [...]

It's all about 1st world exceptionalism and, frankly, an overly rich society that can afford the affectation.
Depends what you call "a rich person" and "1st world". As far as American consumers are concerned, studies suggest that over two-thirds of consumers routinely buy organic foods of some kind, although very few consume only organic foods.

And while the US as a whole is certainly among the global "rich people", a country like India is not, but India too has been experiencing a rapid rise in both demand for organic food and organic farming practices. Of course, India contains a lot of rich people even by global standards, and even by domestic standards it's the relatively richer people who initially drive the interest in organic foods. But similarly to the US, the appeal soon spreads beyond the wealthy elites:
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Experts say that India’s organic product market has been driven by health-conscious, middle-class urbanites alarmed by the overuse of pesticides. But that’s changing. India is encouraging farmers to engage in a self-regulating organic certification process that is cheaper than outside consultants and will make organic food more accessible for the domestic market.

Choitresh Kumar Ganguly, an organic farmer from India who sits on board of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, said Sikkim can be a model for other states, such as Kerala and Meghalaya, that are planning to go all-organic. Sikkim’s neighbor, the kingdom of Bhutan, aspires to do so by 2020.
Finally, it's silly to call concern for the environment and integration of food production into environmental sustainability an "affectation". Sure, a lot of people who are concerned about this issue know very little about its practicalities and aren't really doing anything effective to support it. But that doesn't mean that the issue itself isn't real. The environmental impacts of industrial agriculture practices really are a problem, even if consumers' vague notions about "organic farming" aren't an adequate solution to it.
  #53  
Old 09-14-2019, 03:44 AM
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Depends what you call "a rich person" and "1st world". As far as American consumers are concerned, studies suggest that over two-thirds of consumers routinely buy organic foods of some kind, although very few consume only organic foods.
Well, I buy "organic mushrooms" because I can't find any other sort around here. It's not because I think they're better somehow.

At least in the US, "organic" has no legal definition so I view it as a largely meaningless term. Like the word "lite" in a food label.
  #54  
Old 09-14-2019, 09:44 AM
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Finally, it's silly to call concern for the environment and integration of food production into environmental sustainability an "affectation". Sure, a lot of people who are concerned about this issue know very little about its practicalities and aren't really doing anything effective to support it. But that doesn't mean that the issue itself isn't real. The environmental impacts of industrial agriculture practices really are a problem, even if consumers' vague notions about "organic farming" aren't an adequate solution to it.
Speaking of vague notions, do those demanding a massive switch to organic farming realize the environmental degradation that would cause, both through loss of habitat (organic farming being considerably less efficient, necessitating much more land under cultivation) and harm from toxic organic pesticides including copper and sulfur-based treatments?
  #55  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:09 AM
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...I always like Bill Nye's response to "If something is a GMO, should it be labeled as such", to which he says "Yes, they should be labeled, they should say 'Proudly GMO'"
That is about to happen, at least for apples:

https://www.arcticapples.com/

I haven't seen them on the market, yet, but I expect to. Perhaps this fall.
  #56  
Old 09-14-2019, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimstu
Depends what you call "a rich person" and "1st world". As far as American consumers are concerned, studies suggest that over two-thirds of consumers routinely buy organic foods of some kind, although very few consume only organic foods.
Well, 1st world is clear enough I'd say. 'A rich person' would be...someone living in one of those countries OR anyone who has the money to afford to indulge in buying organic food just because they can. A non-rich person is someone who has to worry about food security (as well as a host of other things) from any source and can't afford to indulge in such extravagance.

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And while the US as a whole is certainly among the global "rich people", a country like India is not, but India too has been experiencing a rapid rise in both demand for organic food and organic farming practices. Of course, India contains a lot of rich people even by global standards, and even by domestic standards it's the relatively richer people who initially drive the interest in organic foods. But similarly to the US, the appeal soon spreads beyond the wealthy elites:
Interesting. As it happens, I've been to India. I'm sure you have as well. I'm not surprised that India has been using organic practices, and I could make a good guess at who it is that are their market too. As a hint, it won't be the poorer 1/3 to 1/2 of their population...nor the poor 1/3 to 1/2 of other countries that aren't in that '1st world' category.

Sorry, but your idea of who are 'wealthy elites' is skewed with my own. The average poor person in the US is, IMHO, a 'wealthy elite' on global standards, even in countries like India and China, let alone really poor countries.

Quote:
Finally, it's silly to call concern for the environment and integration of food production into environmental sustainability an "affectation". Sure, a lot of people who are concerned about this issue know very little about its practicalities and aren't really doing anything effective to support it. But that doesn't mean that the issue itself isn't real. The environmental impacts of industrial agriculture practices really are a problem, even if consumers' vague notions about "organic farming" aren't an adequate solution to it.
Not at all. Show me some real evidence that it DOES help the planet, uses less resources, is more efficient AND that it's actually better for you and I promise to change my tune. From what I've read in the past you can't, sadly, so it is an 'affectation' that basically costs more and appeals to 'wealthy elites'.
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  #57  
Old 09-14-2019, 12:10 PM
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Speaking of vague notions, do those demanding a massive switch to organic farming realize the environmental degradation that would cause [...]
I assume that's a rhetorical question and you're not actually asking me to provide a factual answer about what some unidentified group of people do or don't "realize".

I think you (and also XT, as per post #56) may also be a bit out of date in believing that there's a clear demarcation between "efficient" industrial agriculture that the world relies on for most of its food and "inefficient" "organic" agriculture that is essentially a boutique luxury product for the wealthy. Most of the actual food production in the world does not fall exclusively into one camp or the other, and a lot of their categories overlap in practice. As this 2017 Scientific American article notes,
Quote:
One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. [...] Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals. [...]

MYTH 1: LARGE-SCALE AGRICULTURE FEEDS THE WORLD TODAY

According to a recent U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, family farms produce over three-quarters of the world’s food. The FAO also estimates that almost three-quarters of all farms worldwide are smaller than one hectare [...]

So while conventional industrialized agriculture feeds the developed world, most of the world’s farmers work small family farms. A 2016 Environmental Working Group report found that almost 90 percent of U.S. agricultural exports went to developed countries with few hungry people. [...]

MYTH 2: LARGE FARMS ARE MORE EFFICIENT

Many high-volume industrial processes exhibit efficiencies at large scale that decrease inputs per unit of production. [...] But agriculture is different. A 1989 National Research Council study concluded that “well-managed alternative farming systems nearly always use less synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than conventional farms.” [...]

According to a 1992 agricultural census report, small, diversified farms produce more than twice as much food per acre than large farms do.

Even the World Bank endorses small farms as the way to increase agricultural output in developing nations where food security remains a pressing issue. [...]

MYTH 3: CONVENTIONAL FARMING IS NECESSARY TO FEED THE WORLD

We’ve all heard proponents of conventional agriculture claim that organic farming is a recipe for global starvation because it produces lower yields. The most extensive yield comparison to date, a 2015 meta-analysis of 115 studies, found that organic production averaged almost 20 percent less than conventionally grown crops [...] But the study went a step further, comparing crop yields on conventional farms to those on organic farms where cover crops were planted and crops were rotated to build soil health. These techniques shrank the yield gap to below 10 percent.

The authors concluded that the actual gap may be much smaller, as they found “evidence of bias in the meta-dataset toward studies reporting higher conventional yields.”

Consider too that about a quarter of all food produced worldwide is never eaten. [...] So even taken at face value, the oft-cited yield gap between conventional and organic farming is smaller than the amount of food we routinely throw away. [...]

Conventional farming practices that degrade soil health undermine humanity’s ability to continue feeding everyone over the long run. Regenerative practices like those used on the farms and ranches I visited show that we can readily improve soil fertility on both large farms in the U.S. and on small subsistence farms in the tropics.

I no longer see debates about the future of agriculture as simply conventional versus organic. In my view, we’ve oversimplified the complexity of the land and underutilized the ingenuity of farmers. I now see adopting farming practices that build soil health as the key to a stable and resilient agriculture.

Last edited by Kimstu; 09-14-2019 at 12:11 PM.
  #58  
Old 09-14-2019, 03:05 PM
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At least in the US, "organic" has no legal definition so I view it as a largely meaningless term. Like the word "lite" in a food label.
Absolutely not true.

The term "organic" as applied to food and agriculture has been legally defined in the USA since 2001, when the National Organic Program went into effect.

A lot of additional comments in this thread are also based on inaccurate or at best misleading information, but spelling out in detail why this is so, at least in a fashion likely to convince anybody, will take a fair amount of typing and also requires my sorting out cites from my records and updating some of them with newer information. I am too tired right now after markets to deal with this properly and will probably come back to it tomorrow.
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:25 PM
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Understandable. We all have lives outside this forum (or at least I hope we do).

However, if you would make the effort (when convenient for you, of course) I would very much appreciate the effort.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:54 AM
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as per post #56) may also be a bit out of date in believing that there's a clear demarcation between "efficient" industrial agriculture that the world relies on for most of its food and "inefficient" "organic" agriculture that is essentially a boutique luxury product for the wealthy.
There's good evidence that greatly enlarging the percentage of farming that's done "organically" would have a detrimental environmental effect.

...because organic farming tends to have significantly lower crop yields, far more land is required to grow the same amount of food that intensive agriculture can produce, according to a recent study. To feed the billions of hungry mouths on the planet, going fully organic would entail reclaiming vast swathes of additional land for agriculture. Much of that extra land would have to be taken from forests, which would harm the environment.

A new study, published in the journal Nature, now underlines the same point.

An international team of researchers studied peas and wheat cultivated organically in an area of Sweden. They found that organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than the conventionally farmed variety because organic farming requires significantly more land. As a result, organic farming can also lead to much higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50 percent bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas,” says Stefan Wirsenius, an associate professor from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden who was an author of the study. “For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference – for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70 percent.”


http://sustainability-times.com/envi...ew-study-says/

This doesn't mean there's no role for organic farming (even though its health and environmental claims appear vastly overstated). But a major expansion in this area will have serious costs.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 09-15-2019 at 10:55 AM.
  #61  
Old 09-15-2019, 08:04 PM
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Understandable. We all have lives outside this forum (or at least I hope we do).

However, if you would make the effort (when convenient for you, of course) I would very much appreciate the effort.
Don't know at this point that I'm going to get this done tonight; but will come back to it.

And thanks for the appreciation!
  #62  
Old Yesterday, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
From someone at Cornell who, judging by the rest of his answer, is strongly pro-GMO:




so the amount applied by the organic technique is going to be less, not the same, because he's been comparing the protein amount in the GMO plant to the total bacteria amount in the organically-allowed product.

And that's assuming that the organic farmer applies every seven days for four months; which isn't necessarily what's happening. But even if we assume it is: no, the pesticide use isn't reduced.
His math is wrong. His basic-ass elementary school arithmetic is off by orders of magnitude. It took you longer to write that post that it would have taken to check the math. Or even give it a sniff test. Randomly googling topics one doesn't know well and accepting results from "gmoanswers dot com" without question has the expected result.

If anyone here is having trouble, like the supposed ivy league professor, with how percents work or how million and billion mean different things, let me know where you're stuck and I'll give you a hand.

Here's a hint: 0.001% of 6000 lb/ac not 6 lb/ac
Here's another hint: 10 ng/g is not 0.001%
  #63  
Old Yesterday, 10:19 AM
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The average poor person in the US is, IMHO, a 'wealthy elite' on global standards, even in countries like India and China, let alone really poor countries.
It would be interesting to find some useful studies to explore this question. U.S. poor may have higher income than the average person in, say, Thailand but when access to healthcare and other factors are considered, I doubt they achieve the same contentment level, let alone qualify as 'wealthy elite.'

But I think you're correct that "organic farming" is not the solution to feeding a large human population, now 7.6 billion and still counting. Humanity has "painted itself into a corner" where we are dependent on pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs and habitat destruction. And governments and large corporations often rely on continued growth.

Unfortunately the real solution — discouraging population growth — cannot be discussed in polite company. Some will "argue" that with 8 billion people we can expect 34.8 new DaVinci's and Mozart's, but only 17.4 if there were only 4 billion people — impeccable arithmetic, but insane logic. Others will scream that rationalists want to starve 4 billion babies to death. Good luck to all.
  #64  
Old Yesterday, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by septimus
It would be interesting to find some useful studies to explore this question. U.S. poor may have higher income than the average person in, say, Thailand but when access to healthcare and other factors are considered, I doubt they achieve the same contentment level, let alone qualify as 'wealthy elite.'
Don't compare income. Compare quality of life. Who has access to electricity, modern plumbing, clean water and food and basic public services like fire, police and the like? I think you'll find that US (as well as other 1st world countries) poor are MUCH better off than the vast majority of humanity.

No one said they have more contentment than our own 'wealthy elite'...I said that in comparison with much of the world, even in supposed advanced countries like China, the vast majority of folks don't have access to the quality of life things our own poor do. And they aren't going to be eating 'organic', unless you mean 'dirt farming at the bare subsistence level', in which case yeah...most of the poorer countries are totally organic!

If you want to look into the question you posed here deeper, maybe start another thread on it, as it IS an interesting subject IMHO.

Quote:
Unfortunately the real solution — discouraging population growth — cannot be discussed in polite company. Some will "argue" that with 8 billion people we can expect 34.8 new DaVinci's and Mozart's, but only 17.4 if there were only 4 billion people — impeccable arithmetic, but insane logic. Others will scream that rationalists want to starve 4 billion babies to death. Good luck to all.
A couple of quick things about this. First off, we don't need to discourage population growth...the trajectory is already slowing growth and we are basically in the momentum stage. It will slow and decline on its own without us doing anything, even leaving aside how things like climate change and such will put additional pressures on the population. Second, we don't need to discourage population from the perspective of feeding everyone as we can do that already. We haven't even started to tweak our agricultural system to bring out efficiencies. Hell, in the US and other countries, farms are paid NOT to grow food, and don't grow as much as they can because of the effect on the markets. Food is dirt cheap ALREADY. China is currently having issues, but those are artificial issues brought on by a poorly thought out response to Trump's idiotic trade war (the CCP is every bit as idiotic as Trump et al). Mostly, folks in the world who have issues with food fall into two camps. The biggest one is folks who's governments are so shaky and who have warlords and gangsters/bandits who steal or burn the food specifically TOO keep the people down and starving. It's a logistics issue, mainly. Hell, in many of those countries, even dirt farmers are targeted and killed and what land they have goes fallow because of the chaos. The second group are due to market forces for agricultural products. They are stable enough that they COULD buy all the food they need, but they aren't able too for one reason or another.

We don't need the population to drop radically or even stop it's current trajectory to feed everyone. We could do it just with what we have today. The problem isn't growing the food, sadly, it's getting the food to the folks who need it. Just like everything else they need.
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  #65  
Old Yesterday, 02:49 PM
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There's good evidence that greatly enlarging the percentage of farming that's done "organically" would have a detrimental environmental effect.

...because organic farming tends to have significantly lower crop yields, far more land is required to grow the same amount of food that intensive agriculture can produce, according to a recent study. [...]
Did you not read my extensively quoted cite about the inadequacy of trying to equate sustainable agriculture with current narrowly defined "organic farming" criteria, and also the problems with exactly the sort of comparisons of productivity levels between organic and conventional agriculture that you're referring to? I'll repost a shortened excerpt:
Quote:
We’ve all heard proponents of conventional agriculture claim that organic farming is a recipe for global starvation because it produces lower yields. The most extensive yield comparison to date, a 2015 meta-analysis of 115 studies, found that organic production averaged almost 20 percent less than conventionally grown crops [...] But the study went a step further, comparing crop yields on conventional farms to those on organic farms where cover crops were planted and crops were rotated to build soil health. These techniques shrank the yield gap to below 10 percent.

The authors concluded that the actual gap may be much smaller, as they found “evidence of bias in the meta-dataset toward studies reporting higher conventional yields.”

Consider too that about a quarter of all food produced worldwide is never eaten. [...] So even taken at face value, the oft-cited yield gap between conventional and organic farming is smaller than the amount of food we routinely throw away. [...]
Simply comparing conventional industrial agriculture with chemical pesticides and fertilizers to conventional industrial agriculture without chemical pesticides and fertilizers gives a misleading idea of the diversity and potential of sustainable agriculture methods. Sure, modern industrial organic farms get their "certified organic" status largely by just abstaining from certain chemicals and planting more acreage to make up yields, but that's not the only possible approach.

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  #66  
Old Yesterday, 06:50 PM
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I read your post, Kimstu, for what it's worth; and also noted that it didn't seem to be responded to. Let's see what happens to this one (though look out -- Long Post Warning!)


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Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
His math is wrong.
Yeah, the more I look at that it's not a good cite. It's wrong in other fashions also, such as that it's comparing one specific protein in the GMO crop to total bulk of the organically permitted product, and in assuming that organic growers in general are using BT in a fashion in which few if any actually do (see response to Deeg, at the very end of this long post).


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Originally Posted by XT View Post
What it generally does is just be less efficient
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Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
My problem with organic farming is that it's less efficient; 80% to 66% less efficient, depending on who you believe. If all farms in the US were to go organic we'd need a sizable increase in farmland and that comes with its own environmental impact..
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Speaking of vague notions, do those demanding a massive switch to organic farming realize the environmental degradation that would cause, both through loss of habitat (organic farming being considerably less efficient, necessitating much more land under cultivation) and harm from toxic organic pesticides including copper and sulfur-based treatments?
As far as the copper and sulfur goes, I'm just going to quote from earlier posts of mine on this board in a different thread, and also refer you to my post #46 in this thread, as well as to the very end of this one:

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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
copper and sulfur, which the article criticized organic farmers for using as pesticides, are both essential nutrients for crops (and humans), and may be applied as such by either conventional or organic farmers as soil amendments/fertilizers.

https://nrcca.cals.cornell.edu/soilF...CA1_print.html

There is such a thing as copper toxicity; like boron and other micronutrients, while you need it, you don't need much of it, and too much is indeed a bad idea. That's why copper is a restricted material in organic use and "must be used in a manner that minimizes accumulation in the soil" if used as a pesticide, and requires soil testing to determine actual deficiency if to be used as a soil amendment. .
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
,But another point is that it isn't just that organic growers use different crop treatments; it's also that we use crop treatments differently. I've used copper fungicides, for instance, one year out of over thirty years farming; and then on one crop (tomatoes, in a very bad late blight year) that took up only a very small area of the farm. In order to use any pesticide, even one on the approved list, organic farmers are supposed to show that they're using other methods -- resistant varieties, timing of planting, spacing and pruning of crops for better airflow, encouragement of beneficial insects, et cetera -- and are only resorting to the pesticide when/if those don't work.
As far as the efficiency question goes, to come at this from more than one direction:

First, in order to properly talk about efficiency, it's necessary to discuss what measure of efficiency is being used. Total salable yield per acre by weight? Total nutrient production per acre? Total yield, whether by weight or by nutrients, and whether or not including items eaten by the farmers, per amount of fossil fuel used? per amount of overall non-renewable resources used? per total calories required to produce a calorie of food? per impact on the topsoil, whether positive or negative? per impact on water quality? per impact on other species, including but not limited to those also edible for humans? per amount and cost of off-farm inputs required to raise the crop? per amount of human labor needed? Those are all different measures, and they're not all going to give the same answer. (Higher costs for organic food in the USA and similar countries are affected, not only by marketing issues and the costs of organic certification, neither of which are inherent to the system itself; but also by the fact that currently in the USA the cost of running machinery and purchasing inputs -- both of which draw on non-renewable resources -- is generally less than the cost of human labor. This isn't true everywhere, and may well not be true forever anywhere.)

Second, results vary pretty drastically among studies even just of relative yield per acre. And many studies are done using fields that have been in production [ETA: in organic production] only briefly, and/or involving farmers with limited experience in organic areas. The Rodale long-term studies, reviewed at Cornell, did indeed see a drop in organic production relative to conventional -- for the first five years. After that organic yields came back up, to equal and in some years exceed conventional yields -- in particular in dry years; organic systems tend to show greater resilience in shifting weather, which is likely to be very important.

And third, if what we're after is the greatest possible yield of food per acre: while research is still limited, it seems likely that the way to get that is with polyculture systems, in which multiple crops are mixed together, not just on one farm, but in one field. These systems are likely to produce a lower yield of any one crop, but a total greater quantity of nutrients (and a wider variety of nutrients, very important for people in areas with poor food distribution systems, and for the farmers themselves in areas where little money is available.)

Polyculture systems are entirely unsuited for conventional farming, because they mix together crops of different families, planted at different times, not at the same growth stage at the same time, and generally harvested and eaten at different times; which means that they're not suitable for the use of conventional (or often organic) pesticides, because herbicides that could be used on one may kill the others, insecticides that could be used on one will kill pollinators and other beneficials needed for the others, and days-to-harvest limits don't work. They also don't work at all with large scale machinery, and machinery that might work with such systems has for the most part not been developed. They require significant hand work -- though the mix of crops does some of that work for the farmer; once well established and growing they're generally not susceptible to damage from weeds, and weeds that appear early may be edible and considered more a part of the mix than a problem.

But if you want the most possible nutrition per area, in the form most resilient to changing weather, and especially if you want it in a form accessible to people without a lot of money, polyculture's the way to go.

http://agroeco.org/doc/LApeasantdev.pdf

Quote:
Examples include multiple-use agroforestry systems managed by the Huastecs andLacondones in Mexico, the Bora and Kayapo Indians in the Amazon basin and many otherethnic groups who incorporate trees into their production systems (Wilken, 1987). Suchhome gardens are a highly efficient form of land use incorporating a variety of crops withdifferent growth habits. The result is a structure similar to tropical forests, with diversespecies and a layered configuration (Denevan et al., 1984). Because of the nearly year-round growing conditions, indigenous farmers are able to stagger crop and tree plantingsand harvesting to increase overall yields. For example the Bora plant a wide variety of crops,including some 22 varieties of sweet and bitter manioc interspersed among pineapples, fruittrees and minor annual crops.In the Amazon, the Kayapo yields are roughly 200% higher than colonist systems and175 times that of livestock
https://www.agrifutures.com.au/wp-co...ons/01-034.pdf
Quote:
A recurring observation in the literature is that, quite simply, polycultures yield more total production anddo so with greater stability and lower risk than monocultures. Vandermeer (1981) stated ‘thegeneralisation is that a relative yield advantage is usually obtained from a polyculture [greater] than thatobtainable from separate monocultures’. Kass (1978) confirmed that ‘intercropping will produce higheryields than mixed cropping’. Trenbath (1974) believed that ‘multiple cropping yields are often higher,more consistent from season to season and more likely to be sustained over the longer term’, the first toadd the element of sustainability. His early extensive review of 344 multiple cropping systems showedthat their yield in biomass tended to lie above the mean of monocultures and the frequency ofoveryielding is significantly greater than that of under-yielding in the polyculture.
https://www.aftaweb.org/latest-newsl...re-yields.html

Quote:
One very common intercropping system used in the Americas is growing beans with maize. The LER values for this system usually range from 1.3 to 1.8.
Another case study of intercropping radishes in a pear orchard found an LER value of 1.65 to 2.01 relating to economic and biomass yield respectively.

https://www.researchgate.net/publica...omplementarity

Quote:
We seeded seven perennial forage species in a replicated field experiment at two locations in Iowa, USA, and evaluated biomass productivity of monocultures and two- to six-species mixtures over 3 years after the establishment year under management systems of contrasting intensity: one or three harvests per year. Productivity increased with seeded species richness in all environments
https://permaculturenews.org/2019/01...m-year-4-2018/

Quote:
This year’s results show the polyculture outperforming the control in yield by approx 46 kg and taking approx. 45 minutes longer to manage.
(Note: this was very small scale plots.)

https://academic.oup.com/ee/article-...dFrom=fulltext

Quote:
although yields of each component crop were decreased, total crop yields were higher in polycultures when estimated as a land equivalent ratio.
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?scri...42014000300004

Quote:
The land-use efficiency of the polyculture system was between 2.45 (with sunn hemp) and 2.77 (with tropical kudzu) times greater than that achieved by individual monocultures.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...4ZABPQsgB_CkS3
(Seems to be downloadable pdf only)

Quote:
This article compares food yields and other nutrient contributions from the Three Sisters, comprised of interplanted maize, bean and pumpkin, with monocultures of these same crops. The Three Sisters yields more energy (12.25 x 106 kcal/ha) and more protein (349 kg/ha) than any of the crop monocultures or mixtures of monocultures planted to the same area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
As it happens, I've been to India
How about a couple of cites from India?

http://orgprints.org/9783/

a field experiment was conducted at the research farm of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India during 2003-06 in rice-wheat-green gram cropping system [ . . . ] The rice grain yield (4.0 t ha-1) obtained under combined application of four organic amendments was at par with the yield recorded under recommended dose of chemical fertilizer application. An interesting observation recorded was that there was no serious attack of any insect pest or dis-ease in organically grown crop. Soil microbial population (Actinomycetes, Bacteria, Fungi and BGA) enhanced due to the application of organic amendments in compari-son to absolute control as well as recommended fertilizer application that in turn re-sulted in a notable enhancement in soil dehydrogenase and phosphatase enzyme activity. Soil organic carbon and available phosphorus contents were also found to be significantly increased due to organic farming practice over control as well as chemical fertilizer application.

https://crops.confex.com/crops/wc200...ram/P11639.HTM

A field experiment to know the effect of application of organics on the productivity of groundnut (cv. JL-24) was conducted in organic deficient Vertisols (Medium black soil) under rainfed farming situations at the Main Agricultural Research Station, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Karnataka (India) during rainy season of 2004. [. . . ]
The results indicated that organic farming in groundnut produced 18.18 and 22.09 % higher dry pod yield and higher kernel yield over inorganic farming (2970 and 2345 kg dry pod and kernel yield/ha, respectively). Further, use of organics in groundnut production also resulted in higher pod number/plant (23.04 %), dry pod weight/plant (13.08 %), double seeded pods (6.62 %), shelling percent (3.34 %), sound mature kernels (3.94%), 100-kernel weight (0.14%) and harvest index (3.16 %) as compared to inorganic farming (20.4, 28.912 g, 136, 78.94 %, 88.42 % 50.76 g and 0.411, respectively). Groundnut crop in organically amended plot did not show moisture stress during the period of dry spell of 38 days due to greater moisture conservation. On the contrary, groundnut in inorganic farming showed moderate to severe moisture stress during same initial dry spell period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
Viewing a farm as a whole organism and employing crop rotation can be done with GMO just as easily as non-GMO. Using GMOs just gives you a bigger toolbox.
Theoretically, quite possibly. Though I, at least, and a number of other organic growers, would want a different and more open attitude to testing and research first. Access to GMO seed for research purposes was heavily restricted for years
https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...crop-research/
; and while a number of universities are now allowed to do such research without individual permission for each study, there's still not an entirely open situation
https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.o...d-food-supply/
. A living organism can't be withdrawn once it's released, and so requires extra caution. We're having enough trouble with chlorofluorocarbons, which came into common use because they were genuinely considered less toxic than their predecessors -- and genuinely were, except that we had no idea they'd have effects in an area it hadn't even occurred to us to test; but at least those don't manufacture and release more of themselves.

In practice, what's currently available in GMO's is things we wouldn't want in the toolbox. We don't want to use dicamba or glyphosphate; and we don't want to use BT in the fashion in which GMO crops use it. Organic growers who do use BT apply it only when and if the target pest is present or can reasonably be expected (based on previous area specific history, current year appearance of the pest in nearby locations, scouting for adults, and relevant weather reports, not on just looking at the date) to be imminently present in the field at the growth stage at which it's vulnerable to BT, and the crop is simultaneously at a growth stage at which it's susceptible to the pest. We don't use even biologicals by applying them continuously from seeding until and after harvest, whether or not the pest even shows up that year.

Last edited by thorny locust; Yesterday at 06:52 PM.
  #67  
Old Today, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
What more, exactly? Do you use mule-drawn plows and dig up the weeds with hoes?
Oh please. That is grotesque. The "organic" (or you could say, wholistic, or sustainable, but organic is what has caught on) farming movement is huge, very complex, and highly regulated. It is the very opposite of your utterly ignorant remark. Trying to produce food in such a way as to sustain biodiversity, ecological balances, the health of the soil, of the farm workers, as well as that of the consumers of it, is hardly anti-science or primitive in any way whatsoever. In reality it is far more complex and delicate than what it is trying to supplant -- using soil as a mere industrial growing medium for mono-cropping.
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Old Today, 05:05 PM
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To address one part of thorny locust's lengthy gallop (the comment suggesting all is well with use of copper (fungicides) by organic farmers since they're supposed to "minimize" its application):

Wise "minimal" use of a pesticide sounds great, but as a practical matter applications can be excessive in all types of agriculture, and harm ranging from toxicity to pest resistance can ensue.* In the case of copper sulphate (approved for organic farming) long-term toxicity seems to be the major problem.

"Vineyard sprayers have experienced liver disease from exposure to it. It is corrosive to the skin and eyes and is absorbed through the skin. It causes reproductive problems in birds, hamsters and rats. It has been shown to induce heart disease in the offspring of pregnant hamsters that were exposed to it. It has caused endocrine tumors in chickens. Copper sulfate and similar fungicides have been poisonous to sheep and chickens on farms at normal application rates. … They are very toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates, such as crab, shrimp and oysters. There are cases where most animal life in soil, including large earthworms, have been eliminated by the extensive use of copper-containing fungicides in orchards. It is strongly bioaccumulated and is very persistent. Once a soil is contaminated with copper, there is no practical way to remove it.”

http://risk-monger.com/2016/04/13/th...ganic-farming/

Note: I occasionally use two of what are somewhat hyperbolically called the "dirty dozen" organic pesticides (Neem oil and pyrethrins), mostly indoors on ornamental plants. This is of course far different than raising grain/vegetables for a living and relying on pesticides to bring in a saleable crop.

*I'm unaware of the U.S.D.A. sending reps out to organic farms on a continuing basis to test soil and water accumulation of metal-based pesticides, any more than the agency does comprehensive reviews of non-organic farmers' potential overuse of pesticides.
  #69  
Old Today, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
To address one part of thorny locust's lengthy gallop
"Gallop" seems to be insinuating the expression "Gish gallop", where somebody makes a large variety of false statements in rapid succession so that it's difficult to rebut them effectively. AFAICT that's not what thorny locust's long post was doing, and I think you should retract your use of the term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii
(the comment suggesting all is well with use of copper (fungicides) by organic farmers since they're supposed to "minimize" its application):

Wise "minimal" use of a pesticide sounds great, but as a practical matter applications can be excessive in all types of agriculture, and harm ranging from toxicity to pest resistance can ensue.* In the case of copper sulphate (approved for organic farming) long-term toxicity seems to be the major problem.
ISTM that that's exactly what thorny locust herself was saying about the need for caution in using it:
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust
There is such a thing as copper toxicity; like boron and other micronutrients, while you need it, you don't need much of it, and too much is indeed a bad idea. That's why copper is a restricted material in organic use and "must be used in a manner that minimizes accumulation in the soil" if used as a pesticide, and requires soil testing to determine actual deficiency if to be used as a soil amendment. [...]

I've used copper fungicides, for instance, one year out of over thirty years farming; and then on one crop (tomatoes, in a very bad late blight year) that took up only a very small area of the farm.
  #70  
Old Today, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
"Gallop" seems to be insinuating the expression "Gish gallop", where somebody makes a large variety of false statements in rapid succession so that it's difficult to rebut them effectively. AFAICT that's not what thorny locust's long post was doing, and I think you should retract your use of the term.


ISTM that that's exactly what thorny locust herself was saying about the need for caution in using it:
It kind of IS a Gallop though. Her (I'm using your pronoun her, so if thorny isn't a woman, my apologies) response to me, for instance, has nothing to do with my own point. Thorny's cites seem to be about organic farming in India, which I never denied...or really mentioned...in my own post, which was about who eats the organically grown food there. Now, had she posted a link and some text saying that 70%, say, of India's poor eat organically grown food, THAT would have been a reasonable rebuttal to my off the cuff anecdote...and I'd have learned something.

As it is, I'm unsure what we are even arguing about in this tangent to the original thread. Are thorny and you making a comment about how organic is safer to eat than GMO? Or that GMO's aren't safe? Or is it that organic is better for the environment? I really am not sure exactly what is being argued and have, essentially, lost interest in the tangent. I saw your post and thorny's comment about no one coming back to rebut you or her and figured I'd just do a drive by.

If the thread is now about how viable organic is, or how much better for the environment or something, that's a whole 'nother subject. I think that sweeping, across the board statements about organic or non-organic are going to be hard to make, as there are examples of each that can demonstrate whatever the person spinning the data wants to show. From what I have read, organic is generally more expensive. It generally takes more resources to produce with lower yields. And the vast majority of actual agricultural produce is done using non-organic methods, world wide. While organic SALES are about about 9-10% in the US, the actual amount of food is more like 6% of the total (which is telling right there). I can't seem to get a quick Google search on how much of the worlds annual food production is organic, as the US produces something like 35% of that total and as our own organic production is less than 10%, I'm going to assume my assumption is correct that it's a small percentage of the overall amount produced each year. I'll make a WAG that it's less than 20% of the total, world wide. Now, if someone wants to look THAT up and show me it's really 40%, or 60% of 99% I'll definitely be interested.

But, wrt GMOs which is what the OP is asking about, I haven't seen any evidence that they are not safe to eat simply because they are genetically modified. What I have seen on this subject is that a lot of things that humans have genetically modified over the 10,000 or so years we've been tinkering don't make it on the GMO list, and folks are perfectly happy growing them 'organically' while claiming they are non-GMO (I always get a kick out of seeing the non-GMO thing on stuff made of corn, for instance ).
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  #71  
Old Today, 06:22 PM
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As far as India and organic, I found this cite that discusses it:

Quote:
India has the highest number of organic farmers globally, but most of them are struggling

India is home to 30 per cent of the total organic producers in the world, but accounts for just 2.59 per cent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares, according to the World of Organic Agriculture 2018 report.
At the same time, most organic farmers are struggling due to poor policy measures, rising input costs and limited market, says a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and global consultancy firm Ernst & Young.

Organic farming is yet to taste success

Problems are evident even in Sikkim, which was recognised as the country’s first organic state in 2018. A survey by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment shows that the state's transition to organic farming is yet to become a true success. The survey found that the phasing out of chemicals in Sikkim was not complemented by a simultaneous increase in availability of and access to organic manure.
Farmers also complained of low productivity during the transition from conventional chemical farming to organic farming. Pest attack on organic crops is another reason cited by the farmers for low productivity and demanded education and training to deal with it. The problem of pest attacks increased after the conversion to organic farming, but the state is yet to maintain data on this, which is needed for plant disease management.

Similarly, nearly 98 per cent farmers in Rajasthan are aware of ecological hazards of conventional chemical-based farming, but fear of decline in production and unavailability of organic inputs in the market discourage them from switching to organic farming, says a 2015 study conducted by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society.
The article is from 2018, so maybe there has been a dramatic shift, though other cites I glanced at seem to indicate that's not the case. But it's telling that India has 30% of the worlds total organic farmers/farms yet produces so little from them, and has so many issues. It seems to indicate that we can't shift our global food production to all organic any time soon.

This isn't to say that soil conservation and better resource management (water, for instance) aren't important...vital even. I think they are, and I think we need to focus on that, especially with climate change biting us on our collective asses and looking to ramp up. But I haven't seen anything showing that all organic is more than a rich persons affectation. It's not the way to feed 12 billion or so humans in the next century, at least not from what I've seen.

Which is all irrelevant to the question of whether GMO's are safe to eat or not...
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  #72  
Old Today, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
As far as the efficiency question goes, to come at this from more than one direction:

First, in order to properly talk about efficiency, it's necessary to discuss what measure of efficiency is being used. Total salable yield per acre by weight? Total nutrient production per acre? Total yield, whether by weight or by nutrients, and whether or not including items eaten by the farmers, per amount of fossil fuel used? per amount of overall non-renewable resources used? per total calories required to produce a calorie of food? per impact on the topsoil, whether positive or negative? per impact on water quality? per impact on other species, including but not limited to those also edible for humans? per amount and cost of off-farm inputs required to raise the crop? per amount of human labor needed? Those are all different measures, and they're not all going to give the same answer. (Higher costs for organic food in the USA and similar countries are affected, not only by marketing issues and the costs of organic certification, neither of which are inherent to the system itself; but also by the fact that currently in the USA the cost of running machinery and purchasing inputs -- both of which draw on non-renewable resources -- is generally less than the cost of human labor. This isn't true everywhere, and may well not be true forever anywhere.)

Second, results vary pretty drastically among studies even just of relative yield per acre. And many studies are done using fields that have been in production [ETA: in organic production] only briefly, and/or involving farmers with limited experience in organic areas. The Rodale long-term studies, reviewed at Cornell, did indeed see a drop in organic production relative to conventional -- for the first five years. After that organic yields came back up, to equal and in some years exceed conventional yields -- in particular in dry years; organic systems tend to show greater resilience in shifting weather, which is likely to be very important.

And third, if what we're after is the greatest possible yield of food per acre: while research is still limited, it seems likely that the way to get that is with polyculture systems, in which multiple crops are mixed together, not just on one farm, but in one field. These systems are likely to produce a lower yield of any one crop, but a total greater quantity of nutrients (and a wider variety of nutrients, very important for people in areas with poor food distribution systems, and for the farmers themselves in areas where little money is available.)

Polyculture systems are entirely unsuited for conventional farming, because they mix together crops of different families, planted at different times, not at the same growth stage at the same time, and generally harvested and eaten at different times; which means that they're not suitable for the use of conventional (or often organic) pesticides, because herbicides that could be used on one may kill the others, insecticides that could be used on one will kill pollinators and other beneficials needed for the others, and days-to-harvest limits don't work. They also don't work at all with large scale machinery, and machinery that might work with such systems has for the most part not been developed. They require significant hand work -- though the mix of crops does some of that work for the farmer; once well established and growing they're generally not susceptible to damage from weeds, and weeds that appear early may be edible and considered more a part of the mix than a problem.

But if you want the most possible nutrition per area, in the form most resilient to changing weather, and especially if you want it in a form accessible to people without a lot of money, polyculture's the way to go.
Firstly, thanks for writing up such an informative post. I personally am skeptical of the claims of many organic farming proponents, but from what I have read as well as from first-hand experience with gardening, there certainly seems to be some merit with polyculture farming. The thing I take issue with is the bolded statement - can you clarify what you mean by "in a form accessible to people without a lot of money"?

The natural conclusion that I drew from reading above - that these methods require "significant hand work" and "don't work at all with large-scale machinery" implies exactly the opposite to me - that this style of farming would have to be very labour-intensive, and therefore will result in expensive food. Especially as more and more jurisdictions move towards better labour conditions, higher minimum wages, etc.

If you are suggesting that this style of farming may be more efficient from a land-use perspective, resource usage perspective, etc - I totally buy that. But I just can't see how this could correspond to cost efficiency.

The other possible interpretation that I could see is that you meant that this style of farming is accessible to farmers without a lot of money - eg. not much capital investment is required for farmers to farm in this method. I can definitely see that being the case - but I don't see that translating into cheaper food prices.


Which leads me to believe that organic food is basically a environmental luxury good - similar in a way to electric cars. I think it would be a great thing if both of those things were able to come down in cost such that they were competitive with conventional cars and food, but for now there is a distinct tradeoff between cost and environmental impact. And it seems to me like there is a fundamental conflict between valuing people's labour, and having low-cost food - one of those has to give. Perhaps the future holds some technology that will enable automation of sustainable polyculture farms - can you envision what that might look like?
  #73  
Old Today, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
As it is, I'm unsure what we are even arguing about in this tangent to the original thread. Are thorny and you making a comment about how organic is safer to eat than GMO? Or that GMO's aren't safe? Or is it that organic is better for the environment? I really am not sure exactly what is being argued and have, essentially, lost interest in the tangent.
Well, I'm not insisting that you be interested in it, but ISTM pretty clearly indicated what the basic topic has been:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu
[...] the inadequacy of trying to equate sustainable agriculture with current narrowly defined "organic farming" criteria, and also the problems with [...] comparisons of productivity levels between organic and conventional agriculture [...]

Simply comparing conventional industrial agriculture with chemical pesticides and fertilizers to conventional industrial agriculture without chemical pesticides and fertilizers gives a misleading idea of the diversity and potential of sustainable agriculture methods.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust
[...] in order to properly talk about efficiency, it's necessary to discuss what measure of efficiency is being used. [...]

[...] if you want the most possible nutrition per area, in the form most resilient to changing weather, and especially if you want it in a form accessible to people without a lot of money, polyculture's the way to go.
Quote:
Originally Posted by XT
I think that sweeping, across the board statements about organic or non-organic are going to be hard to make
Yes, that's kind of the point. Sustainability, environmental health, efficiency, and affordability in agriculture depend on the specifics of the agricultural practices used, not just whether they're labeled "organic" or "non-organic".


Quote:
Originally Posted by XT
But, wrt GMOs which is what the OP is asking about, I haven't seen any evidence that they are not safe to eat simply because they are genetically modified.
I don't think anybody in this thread is claiming otherwise.

Last edited by Kimstu; Today at 08:25 PM.
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