Jul 19, 2011  |  Today's News

For the past several years, Illinois corn farmers have been extremely interested in the topic of organic farming.  For many of us, the organic market offers a value-added marketplace that is extremely beneficial to our bottom line.  For the rest of us, we are more than content to value another market opportunity for our fellow farmers and appreciate another option for consumers.

But our bottom line is simply this: do not vilify conventional farming methods as a marketing technique for organic food.

To that end, check out this blog from Scientific American

Here are some of the high points.  But for anyone that wants to frame the organic vs. conventional discussion in a factual light, there’s a wealth of information in this blog to substantiate your argument.

  • “turns out that there are over 20 chemicals commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops that are approved by the US Organic Standards. And, shockingly, the actual volume usage of pesticides on organic farms is not recorded by the government.”
  • “Just last year, nearly half of the pesticides that are currently approved for use by organic farmers in Europe failed to pass the European Union’s safety evaluation that is required by law 5.”
  • “Not only are organic pesticides not safe, they might actually be worse than the ones used by the conventional agriculture industry.”
  • ·          “organic foods tend to have higher levels of potential pathogens. One study, for example, found E. coli in produce from almost 10% of organic farms samples, but only 2% of conventional ones10
  • “Take, for example, organic farming’s adamant stance against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  GMOs have the potential to up crop yields, increase nutritious value, and generally improve farming practices while reducing synthetic chemical use – which is exactly what organic farming seeks to do.”
  • “The unfortunate truth is that until organic farming can rival the production output of conventional farming, its ecological cost due to the need for space is devastating. As bad as any of the pesticides and fertilizers polluting the world’s waterways from conventional agriculture are, it’s a far better ecological situation than destroying those key habitats altogether.”
  • “Nutritionally speaking, organic food is more like a brand name or luxury item. It’s great if you can afford the higher price and want to have it, but it’s not a panacea. You would improve your nutritional intake far more by eating a larger volume of fruits and vegetables than by eating organic ones instead of conventionally produced ones.”

In the end, we agree with the author’s final point.  There are surely benefits to both means of food production and the consumer choice they offer.  We don’t have to pick one side or the other, if only organic farmers and conventional farmers can appreciate each other for the variety they provide to the marketplace.