Greens: Apologize to High-Yield Farmers!

Organic farms get only about half the yield of high-tech farming, primarily because they refuse to use nitrogen to tap the full yield potential of their seeds, and secondly because they allow too much pest damage in their fields. Equally damning, organic disallows no-till farming, which cuts soil erosion by up to 95 percent, because it requires herbicides to control competing weeds. Nor have any health or food safety benefits been documented for organic foods.

Now we are learning that organic farming is also worse for global warming than high-tech farming. What’s left for the organics to claim?

I recommend that "green" organizations send their apologies to Norman Borlaug, care of the World Food Prize Foundation, 1700 RuanCenter, 666 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA, 50309. Norman died last September. But I like to think that somehow he’ll get the messages.

By the way, this year’s World Food Prize Winners are Jo Luck and David Beckmann. Ms. Luck has turned Heifer International into one of the world’s biggest efforts to help third world farmers earn more and get better nutrition. Beckmann runs Bread for the World, which has organized more than 250,000 people into a lobby for ending hunger. Last year’s winner was Gebiza Ejeta, an Ethiopian-born plant breeder whose high-yield sorghum varieties have boosted food availability for millions in semi-arid regions. Perhaps the letters of apologies should include grateful contributions from the vast "green" grant machine.

Resources:

“High-yield Agriculture Slows Pace of Global Warming, Say Stanford Researchers,” Stanford Report, June 14, 2010.

“Greenhouse Gas Mitigation by Agricultural Intensification,” Jennifer Burney, Steven J. Davis and David B. Lobell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0914216107; 2010.