Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food on individual farms in developing countries as low-intensive methods on the same land, according to new research that refutes the long-standing claim that organic farming methods cannot produce enough food to feed the global population.
But in developing countries, food production could double or triple using organic methods, said Dr. Ivette Perfecto, professor at the university's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and one the study's principal investigators.
The authors found that the higher yields could be accomplished using existing quantities of organic fertilizers, without putting more farmland into production, by using green manures - cover crops plowed into the soil to provide natural soil amendments.
In a separate study government scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, ARS, found that organic farming can build up soil organic matter better than conventional no-till farming.
Critics argue that organic food could be less safe than other foods, because it might increase the risk of exposure to biological contaminants and food-borne diseases. Critics point out that manure used to fertilize organic crops might contain human pathogens, mycotoxins from molds, and antibiotics fed to livestock.