The yield of organic cultivation per surface area is, as is well known, much lower than with conventional agriculture. Few people know that even with this poor result, organic farmers are already cheating against organic principles. Organic farming is therefore definitely not capable of feeding ten billion people by 2100! We need industrial farming for that, whether we like it or not. Yet industry brought us not only prosperity, such as the ultra-processed food that was rare a hundred years ago…
The yield of organic cultivation per surface area is, as is well known, much lower than with conventional agriculture. Few people know that even with this poor result, organic farmers are already cheating against organic principles. Organic farming is therefore definitely not capable of feeding ten billion people by 2100! We need industrial farming for that, whether we like it or not. Yet industry has not only brought us prosperity, such as the ultra-processed foods that rarely entered human stomachs a hundred years ago. After all, specialists attribute the cause of modern diseases to the very food we have been eating for millions of years: meat.
The Green Agricultural Revolution
How did it all start? The first agriculture brought a first increase in population, or in abject poverty with great hunger that lasted until not so long ago. It was not until the Industrial Agricultural Revolution that this was improved through a significant increase in agricultural yields: through fertilizers, plant protection agents (such as pesticides and herbicides), perfected agricultural technology and irrigation. This was also accompanied by a real population explosion. Agronomist and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, the father of this green revolution, is said to have saved a billion people from starvation.
This revolution continues to this day. Today, agricultural output is growing faster than the world’s population, even faster than global wealth growth: Despite the huge increase in demand for food, this is now possible on an ever smaller agricultural area. This results in what can be called ‘peak farmland’. Read on to see why this definitely cannot be done with organic farming.
As is well known, agriculture (industrial or otherwise) also brought disadvantages, including: diluted humus layers, soil salinization, nature reserves disappeared, streams polluted and masses of animals died (e.g. by agricultural machinery) or were pushed away (because their ecosystems disappeared). Conventional agriculture (industrial or not) can also lead to serious erosion problems, which is why some call that we are on the brink of global famine.
Yet desertification has declined globally over the past thirty years, according to Nature. The peak of agricultural land, already discussed, also indicates that there is no cause for alarm. Industrial agriculture therefore offers solutions to the soil problem, such as drip irrigation and ‘No-till farming’. The latter is applied, for example, by using glyphosate. For example, this has greatly contributed to sustainable agricultural land management in tropical areas. Saline farmland can also be desalinated with salt-loving plants and varieties through an adapted agricultural program.
The lie behind cinema
The disadvantages of organic are much more basic and intractable. According to Wageningen University and Research, organic farming has a 20 to 40% lower yield per surface area, which requires much more land. That might not sound so bad as long as organic remains a niche, but Sri Lanka recently switched to 100 percent organic farming and plunged into severe food shortages. The problem therefore seems more serious than just this lower yield, and that is: read on!
Organic farmers want to imitate the wild nature with as natural a cycle as possible, so that chemical additives are not necessary. But even the most extreme bio-freak does not cycle with his food: his excrement, his corpse is not returned, which would also give free reign to many diseases. Everything we eat therefore disappears out of the cycle, making a cycle impossible: either the organic farmland inevitably becomes more and more impoverished, or you look for external sources and you are no longer ‘organic’. Organic farmers solve this pragmatically by seriously deviating from all organic principles. Björn Lomborg: ‘The vast majority of existing organic crops are dependent on nitrogen that comes from animal manure from conventional farms, so it ultimately comes from artificial fertiliser.’
If the organic farmer wants to farm, he must cheat. If the organic farmer wants to grow organically, he stops farming. Organic not only means no artificial fertilizers, but also no chemical plant protection agents. But plant protection products do more than just protect the plant: Plants attacked by insects respond with chemical warfare – in other words: poison. If pesticides protect the crops, they are less likely to protect themselves with these toxins and the result is more edible. Natural toxins are not harmless, not even according to the WHO. Pesticides (natural or not) can make plant-based foods much healthier if used smartly. In addition, organic farming also uses pesticides, which are not necessarily more environmentally friendly nor healthier than their industrial counterparts.
The food industry
The green revolution brought us not only larger harvests and thus cheaper agricultural products, but also the food industry: very cheap food made from ultra-processed agricultural products of primarily vegetable origin, for example, based on dirt cheap soy (which contains many toxins).. People eat meat by the millions of years, agricultural products like apples or grains only started cautiously ten thousand years ago. We started eating frozen pizzas, margarine, sunflower oil and cornflakes less than a hundred years ago.
The fact that something is cheap makes it democratic: many people can afford it, and general well-being can increase as a result. But at the same time, there is an epidemic of modern lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases. Yet experts point primarily to red meat and animal fat as the culprit, for which the scientific evidence is actually very thin – as I’ve already discussed on Breakthrough.
And here you can somewhat join the organic consumers in criticizing the ‘industry’, even though the organic supermarket also has a real industry behind it. Just take a critical look at what kind of industrial bio products are sold there.
Made 10 billion people healthy
In short, you won’t be able to feed ten billion people in 2100 with organic foods, let alone healthy ones. Not only because it yields less, especially because organic farming is impossible without tinkering with the ecological principles. The food that people take out of the agricultural cycle through consumption must be supplied again by another route: natural fertilizers will certainly not be enough for this. The ecology movement’s criticism of the food industry is an equally big misunderstanding, because ecology itself has become part of the food industry, with its own pesticides, its own fake food, its own pollution and much more land for the same yield. Furthermore, e.g. ultra-processed junk without pesticides still junk.
Industrial agriculture and animal husbandry are therefore definitely necessary to feed the world’s population and at the same time maintain respect for the environment. But then you don’t necessarily have healthy food. Our supermarkets, even the organic ones, are full of over-processed and other foods that human stomachs are not very suitable for. Although (organic or normal) supermarkets label sweet granola with an A nutriscore, I personally wouldn’t believe it.