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Utilizing advanced organic farming technology to eliminate hunger. Why

Genetic Engineered Food will not solve the World Hunger Issue. Many
links to organic and sustainable technology web sites.

Several high-profile advocates of conventional agricultural production have stated that the world would
starve if we all converted to organic agriculture. They have written articles for science journals and
other publications saying that organic agriculture is not sustainable and produces yields that are
significantly lower than conventional agriculture.

Thus, the push for genetically modified organisms, growth hormones, animal-feed antibiotics, food
irradiation and toxic synthetic chemicals is being justified, in part, by the rationale that without these
products the world will not be able to feed itself.

Ever since Thomas Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798 and first raised the
specter of overpopulation, various experts have been predicting the end of human civilization because
of mass starvation.

The theme was popularized again by Paul Ehrlich in his 1968 book, The Population Bomb. According
to Ehrlich’s logic, we should all be starving now that the 21st century has arrived:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines hundreds of
millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.

The only famines that have occurred since 1968 have been in African countries saddled with corrupt
governments, political turmoil, civil wars and periodic droughts. The world had enough food for these
people it was political and logistical events that prevented them from producing adequate food or
stopped aid from reaching them. Hundreds of millions of people did not starve to death.

The specter of mass starvation is being pushed again as the motive for justifying GMOs. In June 2003,
President Bush stated at a biotechnology conference:

We should encourage the spread of safe, effective biotechnology to win the fight against global hunger.

We must now ask ourselves:

Is global hunger due to a shortage of food production

In this first decade of the 21st century, many farmers around the world are facing a great economic
crisis of low commodity prices. These low prices are due to oversupply. Current economic theories
hold that prices decrease when supply is greater than demand.

Most of our current production systems are price driven, with the need for economies of scale to reduce
unit costs. The small profit margins of this economic environment favor enterprises working in terms of
large volume, and as a result the family farm is declining. Many areas of the United States and
Australia have fewer farmers now than 100 years ago, and the small rural centers they support are
disappearing. Hundreds of thousands of farmers have had to leave their farms in Argentina due to
higher production costs and lower commodity prices. The sugar industry in Australia is on the verge of
collapse for the same reason. Australian dairy farmers continue to leave the industry since deregulation
forced down the prices they receive. Most of the major industrial countries are subsidizing their farmers
so that their agricultural sectors do not collapse.

Europe, North America, Australia and Brazil are in the process of converting a large percentage of their
arable land from food production to biofuels such as ethanol in an effort to establish viable markets for
their farmers. The latest push in GMO development is BioPharm, in which plants such as corn,
sugarcane and tobacco are modified to produce new compounds such as hormones, vaccines, plastics,
polymers and other non-food compounds. All of these developments will mean that less food is grown
on some of the world’s most productive farmland.

Grain farmers in India have protested about cheap imports that are sending them deeper into poverty.
Countries such as India and China, once considered as overpopulated basket cases, export large
quantities of food. In fact, India, one of the world’s most populated countries, is a net food exporter in
most years.

South American rainforests are cleared for pasture that is grazed with beef destined for the hamburger
chains of North America. Once the soil is depleted, new areas are cleared for pasture and old, degraded
areas are abandoned to weeds. In Asia, most of the forests are cleared for timber that is exported to the
developed industrial economies. One of the saddest things about this massive, wasteful destruction of
biodiversity is that very little of the newly cleared land is used to feed the poor. Most of this production
of timber and beef is exported to the world’s richest economies.

The reality is that the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone and has more than
enough suitable agricultural land to do it. Unfortunately, due to inefficient, unfair distribution systems
and poor farming methods, millions of people do not receive adequate nutrition.

Can organic agriculture feed the world?

Organic agriculture needs to be able to answer two major questions:

1. Can organic agriculture produce high yields?
2. Can organic agriculture get the food to the people who need it?

An editorial in New Scientist for February 3, 2001, stated that low-tech, sustainable agriculture is
increasing crop yields on poor farms across the world, often by 70 percent or more. This has been
achieved by replacing synthetic chemicals with natural pest control and natural fertilizers.

Professor Jules Pretty, director of the Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex,
Recent evidence from 20 countries has found more than 2 million families farming sustainably on more
than 4-5 million hectares. This is no longer marginal. It cannot be ignored. What is remarkable is not so
much the numbers, but that most of this has happened in the past 5-10 years. Moreover, many of the
improvements are occurring in remote and resource-poor areas that had been assumed to be incapable
of producing food surpluses.

An excellent example of this type of agricultural extension has been published in the January 2003
World Vision News. Working in conjunction AusAID, World Vision linked farmers from the
impoverished Makuyu community in Kenya with the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF).

They arranged workshops where KIOF members taught the principles of organic farming,
including compost making, preparing safe organic pesticides, organic vegetable gardening and organic
care of livestock.

Maize yields increased by four to nine times. The organically grown crops produced yields that were 60
percent higher than crops grown with expensive chemical fertilizers.

The wonderful thing is that many of these farmers now have a surplus of food to sell, whereas
previously they did not even have enough to eat. They are organizing marketing co-ops to sell this

The profits are going back to the community. They have distributed dairy goats, rabbits, hives and
poultry to community members and have planted 20,000 trees, including 2,000 mangos. Several of the
organic farmers are training many other farmers in the district and helping them to apply organic
farming techniques to their farms.

The mood of the community has changed. They are now confident and empowered with the knowledge
that they can overcome the problems in their community.

These types of simple, community-based organic agricultural models are what is needed around the
world to end rural poverty and starvation, not GMOs and expensive toxic chemicals.

The Makuyu community in Kenya is not an isolated example. Professor Pretty gives other examples
from around the world of increases in yield when farmers have replaced synthetic chemicals and shifted
to sustainable/organic methods:

223,000 farmers in southern Brazil using green manures and cover crops of legumes and livestock
integration have doubled yields of maize and wheat to 4-5 tons/hectare.

45,000 farmers in Guatemala and Honduras used regenerative technologies to triple maize yields to 2-

2.5 tons/ha and diversify their upland farms, which has led to local economic growth that has in turn
encouraged remigration back from the cities.
200,000 farmers across Kenya as part of sustainable agriculture programs have more than doubled their
maize yields to about 2.5 to 3.3 tons/ha and substantially improved vegetable production through the
dry seasons.

100,000 small coffee farmers in Mexico have adopted fully organic production methods and increased
yields by half.

A million wetland rice farmers in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri
Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam have shifted to sustainable agriculture, where group-based farmer field
schools have enabled farmers to learn alternatives to pesticides and increase their yields by about 10

Nicolas Parrott of Cardiff University, U.K., authored a report entitled The Real Green Revolution. He
gives case studies that confirm the success of organic and agroecological farming techniques in the
developing world:

In Madhya Pradesh, India, average cotton yields on farms participating in the Maikaal Bio-Cotton
Project are 20 percent higher than on neighboring conventional farms.

In Madagascar, SRI (System of Rice Intensification) has increased yields from the usual 2-3 tons per
hectare to yields of 6, 8 or 10 tons per hectare.

In Tigray, Ethiopia, a move away from intensive agrochemical usage in favor of composting has
produced an increase in yields and in the range of crops it is possible to grow.

In the highlands of Bolivia, the use of bonemeal and phosphate rock and intercropping with nitrogen-
fixing lupin species have significantly contributed to increases in potato yields.

One of the most important aspects of the teaching farmers in these regions to increase yields with
sustainable/organic methods is that the food and fiber is produced close to where it is needed and in
many cases by the people who need it. It is not produced halfway around the world, transported, and
then sold to them.

Another important aspect is the low input costs. Growers do not need to buy expensive imported
fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. The increase in yields also comes with lower production costs,
allowing a greater profit to these farmers.

Third, the substitution of more labor-intensive activities such as cultural weeding, composting and
intercropping for expensive imported chemical inputs provides more employment for local and regional
communities. This employment allows landless laborers to pay for their food and other needs.
As in the example of the Makuyu community in Kenya, these benefits lead to a positive change in the
wealth and the mood of the community. These communities are revitalized, proactive and empowered
to improve their future.

Can organic agriculture achieve high yields in developed


Since 1946, the advent of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, improved crop varieties and
industrial paradigms are credited with producing the high yields of the green revolution. Because
organic agriculture avoids many of these new inputs, it is assumed that it always results in lower yields.

The assumption that greater inputs of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides are required to
increase food yields is not accurate. In a study published in The Living Land, Professor Pretty looked at
projects in seven industrialized countries of Europe and North America. He reported:

Farmers are finding that they can cut their inputs of costly pesticides and fertilizers substantially,
varying from 20 to 80 percent, and be financially better off. Yields do fall to begin with (by 10 to 15
percent, typically), but there is compelling evidence that they soon rise and go on increasing. In the
USA, for example, the top quarter of sustainable agriculture farmers now have higher yields than
conventional farmers, as well as a much lower negative impact on the environment.

Professor George Monbiot, in an article in the Guardian (August 24, 2000), wrote that wheat grown
with manure has produced consistently higher yields for the past 150 years than wheat grown with
chemical nutrients, in U.K. trials.

A study of apple production conducted by Washington State University compared the economic and
environmental sustainability of conventional, organic and integrated growing systems in apple
production. The organic system had equivalent yields to the other systems. The study also showed that
the break-even point was nine years after planting for the organic system and 15 and 16 years,
respectively, for conventional and integrated farming systems.

In an article published in the peer-review scientific journal Nature, Laurie Drinkwater and colleagues
from the Rodale Institute showed that organic farming had better environmental outcomes as well as
similar yields of both products and profits when compared to conventional, intensive agriculture.

Gary Zimmer, one of the American pioneers of biological farming, runs an organic dairy farm with his
son in Wisconsin. In 2000 one of his remineralized alfalfa (lucerne) fields produced a yield four times
greater than the average for the district. He has increased the nutrient value of pasture by 300 percent
and currently calves 150 cows every year without a single health problem.

Dick Thompson, a founding member of the Progressive Farmers of Iowa, engages in organic farm
research in conjunction with the University of Iowa, the Rodale Institute and the Wallace Institute. He
obtains some of the highest yields in his district using composts, ridge-tilling and crop rotations.
The innovative system of rotationally grazing several species of animals developed by Joel and Theresa
Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia is one of the best examples of a high-yield organic system. They
use 100 acres of dryland pasture to cell-graze cattle, sheep, pigs, meat chickens, laying hens, turkeys,
pheasants and rabbits.

Their system is based on native pastures, without cultivation or new, improved pasture species. The
only input has been the feed for the poultry. This multi-species rotational grazing system builds one
inch of soil a year and returns the family 15 times the income per acre than is received by neighbouring
farms using a set stocking of cattle.

Steve Bartolo, president of the Australian Organic Sugar Producers Association, produced similar
yields of commercial sugar per hectare from his organic Q124 cane and his conventional cane in 2002.
The average yield of sugar for his best organic cane achieved higher tonnes per hectare compared to the
average of all conventionally grown Q124.

Greg Paynter, an organic farmer who works for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries,
conducted the organic section of grain comparison trials at Dalby Agricultural College in 2002. The
organic wheat produced 3.23 tonnes to the hectare compared to the conventional wheat yield of 2.22
tonnes. This trial was conducted during one of the worst droughts on record.

Graham McNally of Kialla Farms, one of Australia’s significant organic pioneers, consistently achieves
yields comparable to those of the conventional farms in his region.

Dr Rick Welsh of the Henry A. Wallace Institute reviewed numerous academic publications comparing
organic and conventional production systems in the United States. The data showed that the organic
systems were more profitable. This profit was not always due to premiums, but was instead a result of
lower production and input costs as well as more consistent yields. Dr. Welsh’s study also showed that
organic agriculture produces better yields than conventional agriculture in adverse weather events, such
as droughts or higher-than-average rainfall.

Will GMOs feed the world?

Argentina is a good example of what happens when a country pursues the policies of market
deregulation and GMO crops. It is the third-largest producer of GMO crops, with 28 percent of the
world’s production. By the 1999-2000 season, more than 80 percent of the total soybean acreage, or 6.6
million hectares, had been converted to GMOs.

These are some of the results according to a study published by Lehmann and Pengue in the
Biotechnology and Development Monitor:

Declining profit margins prices for soybeans declined 28 percent between 1993 and 1999.
Farmers’ profit margins fell by half between 1992 and 1999, making it difficult for many to pay off
bank loans for machinery, chemical inputs and seeds.
A 32 percent decrease in producers between 1992 and 1997, the number of producers dropped from
170,000 to 116,000, meaning 54,000 farmers were forced to leave the industry.

At least 50 percent of the acreage is now managed by corporate agriculture.

There is an increasing role of transnational companies in the agricultural sector.

Industrialization of grain and soybean production has boosted dependence on foreign agricultural inputs
and increased foreign debt.

Removal of import tariffs led to the bankruptcy of domestic farm machinery manufacturers and a loss
of employment.

The commercial seed sector has become increasingly controlled by subsidiaries of transnational

Since the above data was published, the Argentinean economy collapsed, causing riots and the
resignations of several governments. The country is now currently in deep debt, with its economy under
the control of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Its standard of living has declined,
and thousands more farmers have been forced off their farms. Rural and urban poverty and hunger has

According to Caritas Argentina, the social services agency of the Catholic Church in that country, over
40 percent of all Argentinean children are now undernourished:

World Health Organization standards for daily caloric intake are unmet for nearly 40 percent of
Argentinean children under 18, and for up to half in the poorer northeast region of the country. Even in
the comparatively wealthy capital city Buenos Aires, at least 19 children have died of malnutrition in
recent months.

If GMOs cannot feed the children in the country that is the world’s third-largest
producer of GMO crops, how will they feed the rest of the world?


Organic agriculture can feed the world.

The data thus shows that it is possible to obtain very good yields using organic systems. This is not
uniform at the moment, with many organic growers not yet producing at the levels that are achievable.
Education on the best practices in organic agriculture is a cost-effective and simple method of ensuring
high levels of economically, environmentally and socially sustainable production where it is needed.

Organic agriculture is a viable solution to preventing global hunger because:

It can achieve high yields.

It can achieve these yields in the areas where it is needed most.

It has low inputs.

It is cost-effective and affordable.

It provides more employment so that the impoverished can purchase their own needs.

It does not require any expensive technical investment.

It costs tens of millions of dollars and takes many years to develop one genetically modified plant

This money would be spent far more productively on organic agricultural

education, research and extension in the areas where we need to overcome hunger and

Organic agriculture is the quickest, most efficient, most cost-

effective and fairest way to feed the world.

Andre Leu is the president of the Organic Producers Association of Queensland and vice chair of the
Organic Federation of Australia. He can be reached at P.O. Box 800, Mossman, Queensland 4873,

Organic Producers Association of Queensland

Information from other organizations' websites:

The USAID website candidly states: "The principal beneficiary of America's foreign
assistance programs has always been the United States.

Close to 80% of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American firms.

Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new
markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans."
Download the Greenpeace report on USAID and GM food aid

"Asked if people were going 'too far' by saying that gene-altered humanitarian exports were part
of a strategy to spread the GE Crops around the world.

'I'm not sure that is going too far.' "

said Neil E. Harl, a professor of economics at Iowa State University:

"The hope of the industry is that, over time, the market is so flooded with GMOs
that there's nothing you can do about it.

You just sort of surrender."

Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International,

Toronto Star, January 9 2001

"It is unconscionable that the U.S. administration would use the threat of mass starvation as
means to promote products that potentially carry a wide range of health and environmental

Yet all some folks in the U.S. government and business communities can think of is how to
make even more money off their suffering,"

James Clancy, president of Canada's National Union of Public and General Employees
"NUPGE condemns famine exploitation to sell GM foods", NUPGE, October 9

"The USA wants to see its corporations control life's most basic resources, including
seeds, food crops and water.

Unfortunately for southern Africa, the drought plays right into this unprincipled

Dr. Lawrence J. Goodwin of The Africa Faith & Justice Network, a USA-based NGO comprised of
Catholic religious and social justice groups, quoted in AFJN DENOUNCES IMPOSING GM

The Africa Faith & Justice Network

Debunking the Myth - only Industrial Agriculture can Feed the World

USAID and GM Food Aid



Hawaiian Papaya: GMO Contaminated

Food Security: Empty promises of technological solutions

GE Contamination: The Ticking Time-Bomb


DIRTY SECRETS of the Food Processing Industry

Ecological Agriculture - Providing Food Security, Mitigating Global Warming
Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply

Agriculture: Investing in Natural Capital

Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa

Organic Agriculture for IMPROVED Food Security in Africa

Organic agriculture and Global Warming

Organic Agriculture - a Guide to Global Warming and Food Security

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Oxfam Launches East Africa Appeal for Starving People

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Properly prepared compost tea is an excellent soil builder and organic fertilizer.
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Biochar is an excellent soil builder.
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Gardening is micro-climate specific. These means that local gardeners might know of gardening
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