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Organic* Food

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Organic* Food
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

As I said about the Andean corn, I can only quote from memory.

But the two pages you gave as sources are clearly not neutral.
If I may quote two passages from the NCFAP page:
Number one: Who we are
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy fosters and conducts objective, non-advocacy research, analysis, and education to inform public policy on food, agriculture, natural resources, environmental quality, and rural economics.


They claim to be objective and neutral, but they also do things like this:

USDA Grant to NCFAP for Biotech Outreach in Germany

FAS/Germany has requested assistance from NCFAP with developing biotech outreach activities focused on German and Poland farm organizations, local parliamentarians, politicians, university faculty and students, and local media. The goal is to share experiences gained about agricultural biotechnology by US farmers over the past ten years and discuss high profile policy questions such as labeling, coexistance and monopoly control of the technology. The objective of this activity is to facilitate and assist in the development of grass roots voices across Gremany and Poland that support agricultural biotechnology. These voices can be used in the future as multipliers in countering anti-agricultural biotech rhetoric in the German and Poland press.


They claim to be objective and NON ADVOCACY but they want to push us to GMOs and silence those against it. That's a clear contradiction here and it is something that makes me most suspicous about the whole issue:
They want to force their stuff on us via courts, laws and frankly blackmailing our politicians by saying: If you don't do as we want, we'll fire 5000 people.
They tried to sue Poland into allowing GMOs.
They don't accept the sovereignty of entire countries to decide whether they want that stuff or not. They're fighting against every legislature that would force them to indicate clearly whether an ingredient is GM or not becasue they are afraid that people wouldn't buy it. So they basically want to force us to eat it, whether we like it or not (or to switch to organic stuff entirely).


And here's a question:
If the aim was to reduce the amount of herbicides and pesticides, why then are they tailored to be herbicide and pesticide resistent?
To me, the logic behind having a herbicide resistent crop is to be able to use herbicides in a quality or quantity that would kill a non-herbicide-resistent plant and which I therefore could not use before on non-GMOs.
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Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:43 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Re: my sources,
I don't see anything wrong with the second source which contains data showing herbicide use has decreased.
As to the first source they say one of their goals is education, it reads to me as if an organisation in Germany requested their help in educating people about GM crops. I don't have a problem with this, they are not somehow 'silencing' people by putting alternative points and arguments across to those who are willing to listen.

Both sources have lists of references showing where they got their data. If you think they cherry-picked or have a problem with their analysis, please share.

I don't approve of companies forcing their products on unwilling consumers and I do think that GM food should be labeled so that people can choose whether or not they want to eat it. I also think that this approach needs to go hand-in-hand with better education about the benefits and risks of GM crops.

Giliell wrote:And here's a question:
If the aim was to reduce the amount of herbicides and pesticides, why then are they tailored to be herbicide and pesticide resistent?
First of all, the crops aren't made to be pesticide resistant, they are made to produce their own pesticides. Bt corn, for example, produces the Bt toxin which kills corn borer among others. Delivering the pesticide in this manner allows it to be directly ingested by the pest therefore requiring less spray all over the field, less pesticide drift, and less non-specific insect death. Incidentally, Bt toxin is harmless to humans and any other animal with an acidic stomach.

Secondly, as I said previously producing herbicide tolerant crops and spraying less herbicides does seem counter intuitive at first glance. What happens (except in the soybean case) is that a more efficient application of herbicide can occur. Crops are made resistant to broad-spectrum herbicides (e.g., round-up) allowing one or a few applications to kill all types of weeds. Previously, less effective, targeted herbicides had to be used. This meant multiple rounds of spraying different weeds. Additionally, round-up is a better herbicide to use both in terms of our health and that of the environment.


I must say this thread is one of my favourite discussions do far on the LoR :ugeek:
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:11 am
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Yes, a good debate is simply fun for the intelligent mind.

Ooookay, I still have my problems with your first source. To me it sounds less like educating people than propaganda. Why would an organisation want to educate universities? Universities are usually expected to do their research on their own and participate in the international scientific debate, not to get their information by somebody who clearly promotes one side of a debate.

The secon one is more interesting
I read the abstract of the study and what struck me was that, while their data seems to be sound, it is not compared to numbers from conventional non GM-farms or organic farms.
That's an interesting fact, don't you think?
I mean, if I wanted to demonstrate the advantages of one method over the other I'd compare both, because although the numbers show a decrease, they don't tell me whether the use of pesticides and stuff and gas use and stuff has risen or remained stable in conventional farming.
It's like saying that the new insert-car-brand SUV uses 10% less fuel than the old model. That's good, but maybe another brand reduced the amount by 20% and already started at a lower number. It's only half the truth.

And it still doesn't adress any of the socio-economical problems I have with GMOs and the whole market being cornered by some criminals in smart suits like Monsanto, BASF and Bayer. Funny enough, the study include much data from India, where suicides have risen dramatically after Monsanto cornered the market, especially with BT Cotton.
Ok, definetly not an unbiased source since it's from the leading anti-GM-Monsanto activist:
http://www.navdanya.org/news/25feb09a3.pdf

This is, of course, nothing that has to do directly with the question whether a seed is GM or not. It totally also applies to any other form of seeds monopoly, but the GMOs seem to be the "weapon of choice" at the moment.
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:43 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Giliell wrote:The secon one is more interesting
I read the abstract of the study and what struck me was that, while their data seems to be sound, it is not compared to numbers from conventional non GM-farms or organic farms.
I disagree, in their executive summary they explicitly state that a comparison is made to what would likely have arisen if the fields had been planted and treated in the conventional manner.

Here's another paper I found comparing conventional vs. GM crops in terms of herbicide environmental impact: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/25504/1/pp062623.pdf (sorry pdf). It concludes that herbicide tolerant crops have a lower impact on the environment.

Having looked at the GM advocacy group I linked to a little more closely it does seem that they are biased in their reporting. It does not mean that the data they have compiled is incorrect, though perhaps we should be wary of accepting their conclusions too hastily.

To the socio-economic issues that you raise, again I think this is more about ethical business practise than anything inherently wrong with GM crops. I don't support monopolies and I think the government should step in to break them. If the Indian farmers don't want to use GM seeds surely this means that there is a valuable non-GM market waiting to be tapped by one of Monsanto's compeditors. Even a bunch of local farmers could get together and do something about it. The other problem which is revealed in the article you linked to is that these suicides started in 1997 while GM crops didn't become commercialised in India and therefore were not 'forced upon' the farmers until 2002. If farmers don't want to use GM seeds then I see no reason why they don't just stop using them.

There's I nice little review paper that I encourage everyone to read, it's called Are Genetically Modified Plants Useful and Safe?I think it's free access but I'll email you a copy if you can't get it.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:07 am
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RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Organic* Food

Giliell wrote:Tschaka, found the study about the eggs:
Same amount of bacteria in organic and conventional eggs, but less antibiotics resistance in the organic eggs:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/jour ... 1&SRETRY=0
No, antibiotics don't cause resistance the same way cold weather doesn't cause long fur.
But:
A: it selects for a trait. It changes a status quo, where 99.99% of the bacteria might be combated by the antibiotic and your body can deal with the rest of the 00.01% to a different "equilibrium" of maybe 50:50 or 0.01 to 99.99 and now we're in trouble.
B: It also increases chances for new mutations to be benefical and therefore selected for. So we can clearly link a high usage of antibiotics to resistant bacteria.


Yes, I agree, but that seems like just semantics, the difference between "causing" AbR and 'leading to' AbR seems unimportant. Mutations can occur, that's how we got MRSA and H1N1. If Tschaka's study is the norm and organic animal products do have less antibiotic resistant bacteria, is the AbR enough of a concern to favor organic animal products? Specifically in terms of antibiotics application; I could care less if the cow eats organic or conventionally grown grain.

Also my impression is that the antibiotics aren't to reduce the bacteria content of the product (and you say Tschaka found that didn't work anyway), but that small doses of antibiotics cause the animal to gain weight. It seems like a minor benefit if "Bovine Flu" was a possibility.

Here's kind of an overview on the subject: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ... rview.html
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
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Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:35 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Well you've convinced me. Antibiotics should not be used on animals at sub-therapeutic doses.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:07 am
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:

Here's another paper I found comparing conventional vs. GM crops in terms of herbicide environmental impact: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/25504/1/pp062623.pdf (sorry pdf). It concludes that herbicide tolerant crops have a lower impact on the environment.



That study is even more interesting, since it concentrates on the EU. I was surprised because we are very reluctant about GMOs. And the data they have is all from ONE single trial field in ONE single year.
Even better, they estimate the results before they have them.

study wrote:For Ht-corn field trials we have no data available yet. We therefore use a combination of
primary and secondary data here. Ht corn management data we obtained from an earlier study
done by Gianessi, Sankula and Reigner (2003) who estimated the environmental and
economic impact of glufosinate corn for several countries in Europe. We use two data sources
for conventional herbicide use. First, data on herbicide use from our Bt field trials, and second
from a commonly applied conventional herbicide program used in the EU, as reported by
Gianessi, Sankula and Reigner (2003).


That seems very much like fabricating your own results to me.

To the socio-economic issues that you raise, again I think this is more about ethical business practise than anything inherently wrong with GM crops. I don't support monopolies and I think the government should step in to break them. If the Indian farmers don't want to use GM seeds surely this means that there is a valuable non-GM market waiting to be tapped by one of Monsanto's compeditors. Even a bunch of local farmers could get together and do something about it. The other problem which is revealed in the article you linked to is that these suicides started in 1997 while GM crops didn't become commercialised in India and therefore were not 'forced upon' the farmers until 2002. If farmers don't want to use GM seeds then I see no reason why they don't just stop using them.

As I said, that's nothing to do with the crops themselves, but with the practices around them. BTW, the first thing Monsanto did there was to buy all the smaller seed companies so the farmers couldn't get anything else. Remember, they are not educated people like us who can use the internet for finding alternatives. They go to their local seeds store and have to take what's there.

There's I nice little review paper that I encourage everyone to read, it's called Are Genetically Modified Plants Useful and Safe?I think it's free access but I'll email you a copy if you can't get it.

No, no free access
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:42 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Giliell wrote:That seems very much like fabricating your own results to me.
I'm not entirely sure what you are getting at here. Using results from other peoples research especially for comparison to your own data is fine. Estimating something like 'environmental impact' is also routinely done, these are not wild stabs in the dark they have a consistent method for their calculations and they are based on real data. This is nothing like fabricating results.

Here is another study showing a decrease in herbicide use this time for Canadian canola: Influence of herbicide-resistant canola on the environmental impact of weed management. They found that the amount of herbicide used on canola crops from 1995 - 2000 declined by around 40% and over the time period of 1996-2000 conventional canola crops had much higher levels of active ingredient sprayed per hectare and a higher environmental impact than herbicide resistant canola.

Image
This graph shows the initial decline in herbicide use for both conventional and GM crops, but after 1998 you can see herbicide use increases for conventional crops yet stays approximately the same (declining slightly) for GM canola. Also note the widening gap between the amount sprayed on conventional canola vs. GM. When you look at environmental impact conventional crops appear to get more damaging over time, while GM canola's environmental impact stay about the same (rising slightly).

Giliell wrote:BTW, the first thing Monsanto did there was to buy all the smaller seed companies so the farmers couldn't get anything else. Remember, they are not educated people like us who can use the internet for finding alternatives. They go to their local seeds store and have to take what's there.
I think your analysis is too simplistic, Monsanto certainly made it more difficult to buy conventional seeds by stocking seed banks but it's not like alternative seeds have become totally unavailable. Some farmers are actually ordering the seeds they want from further away, but perhaps not using the internet like we would. It would also be a mistake to think that all farmers are completely unhappy with the new GM seeds. One person's story here: Farmers worldwide divided over GM crops.

From anecdotal stories it seems to be the case that Monsanto re-sellers are over-hyping the GM benefits to poor farmers. The farmers think that growing the new plants will be much easier and get themselves into debt to buy them. If the crop fails; through mismanagement, bad conditions, or the new crop not being suitable for the local environment the farmers are unable to pay off their debt and kill themselves. If the crop succeeds, as it often does, the farmer's are pleased with the new cultivars. Over-selling the GM seeds to farmers who can't afford them is certainly deplorable behaviour by the Monsanto reps and something the parent company seems to care little about. If you choose not to reward this with your food buying dollars then I guess that's fair enough.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:32 am
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Oh btw, did you want a copy of that non-free access article? It doesn't contain any data just an interesting discussion of the benefits, risks, and testing of GM crops. I think I can send an email through your LoR account.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:45 am
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:I'm not entirely sure what you are getting at here. Using results from other peoples research especially for comparison to your own data is fine. Estimating something like 'environmental impact' is also routinely done, these are not wild stabs in the dark they have a consistent method for their calculations and they are based on real data. This is nothing like fabricating results.

It is fine of course using other people's data (after checking it) and comparing it, but what they did here was to take the estimates not data from a different study and compare it to the estimates again, not real data of their own study and then compared it with real data from conventional crops. I would call that "fabricating" your own results.

Here is another study showing a decrease in herbicide use this time for Canadian canola: Influence of herbicide-resistant canola on the environmental impact of weed management. They found that the amount of herbicide used on canola crops from 1995 - 2000 declined by around 40% and over the time period of 1996-2000 conventional canola crops had much higher levels of active ingredient sprayed per hectare and a higher environmental impact than herbicide resistant canola.

Image
This graph shows the initial decline in herbicide use for both conventional and GM crops, but after 1998 you can see herbicide use increases for conventional crops yet stays approximately the same (declining slightly) for GM canola. Also note the widening gap between the amount sprayed on conventional canola vs. GM. When you look at environmental impact conventional crops appear to get more damaging over time, while GM canola's environmental impact stay about the same (rising slightly).

OK, makes me ask the question why conventional crops suddenly had to use more stuff, but I really don't have enough knowledge about farming.

I think your analysis is too simplistic, Monsanto certainly made it more difficult to buy conventional seeds by stocking seed banks but it's not like alternative seeds have become totally unavailable. Some farmers are actually ordering the seeds they want from further away, but perhaps not using the internet like we would. It would also be a mistake to think that all farmers are completely unhappy with the new GM seeds. One person's story here: Farmers worldwide divided over GM crops.

From anecdotal stories it seems to be the case that Monsanto re-sellers are over-hyping the GM benefits to poor farmers. The farmers think that growing the new plants will be much easier and get themselves into debt to buy them. If the crop fails; through mismanagement, bad conditions, or the new crop not being suitable for the local environment the farmers are unable to pay off their debt and kill themselves. If the crop succeeds, as it often does, the farmer's are pleased with the new cultivars. Over-selling the GM seeds to farmers who can't afford them is certainly deplorable behaviour by the Monsanto reps and something the parent company seems to care little about. If you choose not to reward this with your food buying dollars then I guess that's fair enough.


Well, it was a three lines statement, that can hardly be elaborated ;)
Of course farmers are divided on the issue just like you and me are, it's something that's still debated, all sides are bringing forth their arguments and ideas. And countries are different. In the EU, only a very small minority of farmers favours GM crops, in other countries it's not even argued anymore. But that doesn't define right or wrong in the debate.

I personally think Monsanto to be one of the big bad players who couldn't care less about human lives. Which of course makes me pretty biased against whatever they're doing. I don't think that they have any interest in less pollution, it's just what sells best at the moment.
Which leads to another point that makes me think quite a lot about the herbicide/pesticide question:
One of the most important partners of Monsanto in developeing GMOs and especially in promoting them in Europe is the BASF. I don't know if you're familiar with the company, it claims to be the biggest chemical company in the world, it is certainly one of the biggest.
Of course, they are very big in the herbicide/pesticide market. So why would they invest billions of dollars in a technology that would destroy their own business over time?

No, I didn't get a copy, please send it to me.
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:55 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Giliell wrote:One of the most important partners of Monsanto in developeing GMOs and especially in promoting them in Europe is the BASF. I don't know if you're familiar with the company, it claims to be the biggest chemical company in the world, it is certainly one of the biggest.
Of course, they are very big in the herbicide/pesticide market. So why would they invest billions of dollars in a technology that would destroy their own business over time?
I don't know BASF but a quick browse of their website reveals they are looking to get into the biotech market by entering into a collaboration with Monsanto. Of course Monsanto makes the round-up herbicide which is what a lot of the herbicide tolerant crops are resistant to, a nice way to increase their own sales at the expense of competitors. Perhaps BASF is looking to do the same thing?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:14 am
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:I don't know BASF but a quick browse of their website reveals they are looking to get into the biotech market by entering into a collaboration with Monsanto. Of course Monsanto makes the round-up herbicide which is what a lot of the herbicide tolerant crops are resistant to, a nice way to increase their own sales at the expense of competitors. Perhaps BASF is looking to do the same thing?


Yep, I think so. So I don't think that it's their ultimate goal to get us rid of herbicides and pesticides, but to develop and sell "repacked" bundles of seeds and matching herbicides
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:32 am
SlothPosts: 72Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:38 amLocation: Floriduh

Post Re: Organic* Food

Conventional farming contributes to the growth of dead zones in the oceans.

We need to find a better way to grow our food. I believe organic and local produce is the answer.
Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:27 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Sloth wrote:Conventional farming contributes to the growth of dead zones in the oceans.
Dead zones, is this something to do with nutrient extraction from the sea?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:53 am
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SlothPosts: 72Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:38 amLocation: Floriduh

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:
Sloth wrote:Conventional farming contributes to the growth of dead zones in the oceans.
Dead zones, is this something to do with nutrient extraction from the sea?



Actually, it's the opposite. It's more of an infusion of nutrients into the sea. The microbial life in these areas explode in population, it messes up the oxygen levels in these areas thus killing other life. Fertilizer run off is how humans contribute to these dead zones. Couple this with overfishing, and we will soon be in a world of hurt.

Here is a link for your reading pleasure. :D

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22301669
Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:37 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Sloth wrote:Actually, it's the opposite. It's more of an infusion of nutrients into the sea. The microbial life in these areas explode in population, it messes up the oxygen levels in these areas thus killing other life. Fertilizer run off is how humans contribute to these dead zones. Couple this with overfishing, and we will soon be in a world of hurt.
OK eutrophication, thanks for clarifying :D

I agree that the explosion in corn agriculture is stupid probably for different reasons, but at least we agree on something. Unless you want to prevent maize agriculture I think we can reasonably assume that some corn is going to be grown in the US. I don't see how organic farming will help produce nitrogen run-off compared with conventional farming. Fertiliser still needs to be applied on organic farms and corn always requires extensive irrigation no matter how you grow it. Organic farming also has the additional problem of more mechanical tillage (to reduce weeds) which increases nitrogen run-off. I am not even sure that organic is an economically viable option for maize production.

The factors that I am aware of that decrease nitrogen run-off are a diverse range of crops (i.e., don't grow too much corn :lol: ) and smaller farm sizes. Both of these factors can be, but are not always, provided by organic or conventional farms. It comes back down to ethical farming practices again. I would agree with you that getting your produce locally will help you make better decisions about which farms to buy from, as long as you're not using your car too much.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:00 am
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SlothPosts: 72Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:38 amLocation: Floriduh

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:
Sloth wrote:Actually, it's the opposite. It's more of an infusion of nutrients into the sea. The microbial life in these areas explode in population, it messes up the oxygen levels in these areas thus killing other life. Fertilizer run off is how humans contribute to these dead zones. Couple this with overfishing, and we will soon be in a world of hurt.
OK eutrophication, thanks for clarifying :D

I agree that the explosion in corn agriculture is stupid probably for different reasons, but at least we agree on something. Unless you want to prevent maize agriculture I think we can reasonably assume that some corn is going to be grown in the US. I don't see how organic farming will help produce nitrogen run-off compared with conventional farming. Fertiliser still needs to be applied on organic farms and corn always requires extensive irrigation no matter how you grow it. Organic farming also has the additional problem of more mechanical tillage (to reduce weeds) which increases nitrogen run-off. I am not even sure that organic is an economically viable option for maize production.


No, I'm sure my other reasons for disliking this corn explosion are similiar to yours. You know, for some reason I just assumed that organic agriculture didn't produce nitrogen runoff. I know, it was silly, but my assumptions aren't to far off.

"Annual nitrate leaching was 4.4-5.6 times higher in conventional plots than in organic plots, with the integrated plots in between. This study demonstrates that organic and integrated fertilization practices support more active and efficient denitrifier communities, shift the balance of N2 emissions and nitrate losses, and reduce environmentally damaging nitrate losses."


http://www.pnas.org/content/103/12/4522.full

Although the next line said this study was only examining a perennial orchid system.

I also found this, but can't find the study they are talking about.

At the 2000 IFOAM Conference, researchers presented a study of nitrogen leaching into the Danube River. They found that nitrogen runoff was substantially lower among organic farms and suggested that the external cost could be internalized by charging 1 euro per kg of nitrogen released.



http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia ... te_note-31

Aught3 wrote:The factors that I am aware of that decrease nitrogen run-off are a diverse range of crops (i.e., don't grow too much corn :lol: ) and smaller farm sizes. Both of these factors can be, but are not always, provided by organic or conventional farms. It comes back down to ethical farming practices again. I would agree with you that getting your produce locally will help you make better decisions about which farms to buy from, as long as you're not using your car too much.


I have heard of some farms doing the "no-till" method.
Although according to this link, organic farming is better at building the soil.
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/j ... il0707.htm
Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:01 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Sloth wrote:No, I'm sure my other reasons for disliking this corn explosion are similiar to yours.
Is it to do with ethanol subsidies, by chance?

The Kramer et al. study that you cited seems pretty good to me. You're right to note that it was done on orchards (specifically apples) but these plants require a lot of nitrogen and I think we can use it in considering maize agriculture. The problem I still have is the amount of organic fertiliser that need to be applied to match conventional yields. It takes about one tonne of manure to match the nutrients available in 50 pounds of inorganic fertiliser and there are environmental risks in applying too much organic fertiliser to soil. As it's much heavier, it costs more to transport and its supply is limited. Given these factors there is an upper limit on how much organic fertiliser can actually be applied to farms. The experimental design used by Kramer et al. controlled for nitrogen by applying the same nutrient levels to both the conventional and organic orchards. This is probably good experimental design but I don't think it accurately reflects reality. Even having said that, this study still supports your contention that less nitrogen run-off occurs in organic farms.





On the other hand, I located a couple of studies that found no significant difference between organic and conventional farms, in terms of nitrogen run-off.

Effects of past and current management practices on crop yield and nitrogen leaching - A comparison of organic and conventional cropping systems
This study concluded that the differences in N losses were not statistically significant between treatments (organic and conventional). Stark et al. said that mineral (conventional) fertilisation didn't affect affect nitrogen leaching, but other factors such as crop rotation and green manuring (a type of organic fertiliser) did lower nitrogen run-off. This study used maize as one of the crops.

Relations between nitrogen leaching and food productivity in organic and conventional cropping systems in a long-term field study
I think this is a very solid study, accurately reflecting the differences between organic and conventional farms over a four year term. Korsaeth found despite using green manure on the organic farms there was no difference in nitrogen run-off between the organic and conventional plots. This contradicts the study above which claims using green manure should lower nitrogen run-off. In addition, conventional farming with good environmental practice had the best production to loss ratio, while organic had the lowest. No maize in this study but crops such as wheat and barley were included.

Finally a review: Do organic farming practices reduce nitrate leaching? No, according to Kirchmann and Bergstrà¶m. I always like reviews because they give a good idea of the overall picture rather than each study in isolation. From their carefully selected studies, they found no significant difference between nitrogen leaching rates, but this was after correction for the amount of nitrogen added. They also tried to factor in crop yields, but were unable to find enough good quality studies.


I have heard of some farms doing the "no-till" method.
Although according to this link, organic farming is better at building the soil.
From this and the studies I linked, I would conclude that, in general, organic farms do not leach less nitrogen per unit of nitrogen applied than conventional farms. However, because conventional farms have access to greater supplies of nitrogen they end up applying more, to get the better yields. The flow-on effect of this is that conventional farms, on an absolute measurement, leach more nitrogen into the surrounding environment. Rather than switching exclusively to inefficient organic fertilisers, my opinion is conventional farmers would be better off growing some green manure and incorporating any readily available feedlot manure to improve soil structure, boost microbial populations, and possibly limit nitrogen leaching. As long at it remains economically feasible. Couple this with the effective inorganic fertilisers and you have a recipe for efficient, large scale crop production.

What d'ya think?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:20 am
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