Farming is easy

Organic agriculture: Organic for everyone: It's that easy to feed the world population healthily

by Peter Carstens
An international team of researchers shows: organic could feed the growing world population - without taking up more space

Organic farming is better for the soil and the groundwater, better for the climate and often also for the animals. All well and good, say critics. But what about the space requirement? Because by doing without mineral fertilizers and chemical-synthetic pesticides, the organic yield per hectare is somewhat lower compared to conventional farming. In other words, there is simply not enough arable land to feed everyone on earth. Especially since the earth's population continues to grow rapidly - by 2050 it could be nine billion - and the consumption of meat in the growing middle classes of Asia is only now picking up speed. Agriculture, say experts, will have to become 50 percent more productive by then in order to feed everyone. It won't work with bio, as is often heard.

That's not true !, scientists now say in a study published in the renowned journal Natur Communications. The researchers at the Swiss Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL) got support for their study from the World Food Organization FAO, the University of Aberdeen, the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt and the ETH Zurich and do the math: World food could even be converted completely to organic - without taking up large amounts of space. However, the prerequisite would be that we do better business.

Less meat, less concentrated feed, less waste

According to the study's authors, we eat too much meat and other animal products especially in industrialized countries. Here it is called reducing. In addition, less concentrated feed with soy from overseas should be used for fattening the animals. Finally, greater efforts must be made to prevent food waste.

On the other hand, there is a threefold gain: fewer greenhouse gas emissions, fewer nitrogen surpluses (fertilizer and liquid manure) and pesticides in the soil and groundwater.

The authors of the study make it clear: Sustainable agriculture on a global scale does not work if we only change the production method. Everyone has to participate. There are enough reasons for this. In Germany, for example, meat consumption is almost 60 kilograms per person per year, twice as high as recommended by the German Nutrition Society - for health reasons.