Environmental Benefits – Organic Farming versus Intensive Farming

September 21st, 2009

There is no doubt about it; research shows that the health of the environment we live in is affected in a negative way by intensive farming.  The distress caused to animals, humans and damage to land and water are devastating and destructive.  On the other hand the benefits of organic farming are considerable and it has been proven that over a given period of time most previously caused damage can be rectified using this method.

Organic Farming Benefits – Almost No Synthetic Chemical Input
With intensive farming land is damaged and often lost completely by the use of chemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.  Using a particular piece of land to grow only one variety of produce (known as monoculture) also calls for chemicals to be used due to the fact that disease and pests tend to thrive in one plant growing areas. As a result the soil depleted of nutrients and minerals becomes less fertile so chemicals are added and a vicious circle is created.  Rivers and waterways are also polluted when the chemical fertilizers from the intensely farmed land run into them.

There are many knock-on effects of this, one of which is the way the forests of the Earth are destroyed to make more land available for farming.  This land, in turn, gets damaged in the same way as before and so the cycle continues.  The FAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation) states;

The expansion and intensification of conventional farming is harmful not only to the environment, but also to the very resources essential to farming. Over the past two decades, some 15 million hectares of tropical forests are lost each year to provide land for agriculture.

Organic Farming Benefits – No Erosion of Soil
As well as destroying the soil, excessive crop growing results in the soil becoming compacted and rainwater cannot be easily absorbed.  Therefore, the rainwater runs off the soil into rivers taking with it the chemical inputs which causes pollution and increases the risk of flooding.

Crops grown each year using conventional systems require the soil to be cultivated.  This act alone destroys organic matter and kills a great deal of the soil fauna, leaving the soil itself open to the elements of the wind and rain.

When the structure of the soil is damaged and cultivation continues, compaction once more occurs resulting in improper drainage and the roots of the plant are unable to get the nutrients they need to grow healthily.

Soil erosion becomes an even bigger problem when natural barriers like hedgerows are removed in order to create a larger space for crops to be grown.  The wind and rain often take topsoil along with them and sometimes heavy rain can take the soil away completely.

Is Organic food healthy?

September 21st, 2009

As far as understanding the benefits of eating organic foods are concerned, we first need an awareness of the facts surrounding conventional produce of a non-organic nature as well as the way in which pesticides are used in certain foods.

In order to this, we can begin by taking a look at the highly respected and influential campaigner against the use of pesticides, Pan UK.

The results of their thorough research show us that:

  • Each year, an enormous amount of pesticide (31 billion tonnes) is sprayed on land within the UK
  • Chronic illnesses such as cancer as well as reproductive and neurologically related health issues are often a result of long term or regular exposure to pesticides
  • It is reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 772,000 new cases of disease caused by pesticides occur each year
  • There are 150 pesticides which have been identified as potential cancer causes by USEPA, the United States Environmental Protection Agency

        People who work on farms along with others who are involved with the use of pesticides are directly exposed to the associated dangers and as Pan UK tell us, the plantation workers in Costa Rica (from where of a high proportion of fruit is exported to the UK) verify that this is the case.

        …Local farmers complain of respiratory problems, allergies and serious chronic dermatitis. Local communities have seen their cattle lose their hair and their unborn calves after eating contaminated pasture. They’re concerned that they are drinking and washing in water affected by the same chemicals.

        Of course, we all need chemical substances that are left naturally, but problems arise when we begin to mix chemicals in order to carry out particular actions as in the case of pesticide production and use.  The results are definitely not good.

        Intensive farming uses pesticides which contain many thousands of hidden chemicals.  This not only puts our personal wellbeing at risk but also has a significant negative effect on the healthy state of the environment in which we live.

        Known as ‘inerts’ many of the toxic chemicals react with each other, for example, DDT and Dioxin.  This creates a magnified toxicity.