|misonceptions arguments organic agriculture, Part A: Organic foods are not healthier than non-organic foods/Organic foods are unhealthy.|
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Part A: Organic foods are not healthier than non-organic foods/Organic foods are unhealthy.
Misconception Number 1: Pesticide residues in conventional foods are always within safe levels.
Misconception Number 2: There is no consistent evidence of a nutritional difference between organic and non-organic food.
Misconception Number 3: Organic industry groups spread fear of non-organic products in order to increase their market shares and profit.
Misconception Number 4: Organic farming increases the risk of food poisoning: organic food potentially contains more dangerous bacteria (such as E. coli because organic farming uses animal manure) and mycotoxins due to the absence of fungicide use.
Misconception Number 5: Many natural foods contain allergenic substances that have a considerable health impact. Through GMO use, conventional agriculture will be able to turn off the genes responsible for allergic reactions, eventually creating food that is healthier than their organic counterparts.
Misconception Number 6: Some natural pesticides used in organic farming have been proven to have harmful effects on health. For instance, Pyrethrin sprayed on organic fruits is highly toxic and Rotenone, another natural pesticide, is a potent neurotoxin long used to kill fish and recently linked to Parkinson’s disease. So there is no reason to trust that organic products are safer.
Part B: Organic agriculture is not better for the environment.
Misconception Number 7: Organic farming uses pesticides that damage the environment: natural pesticides are more dangerous than conventional pesticides because they are less efficient and therefore require the application of huge quantities. This is also true for fungicide (e.g., organic grape producers contaminate the soils with large quantities of copper because they are not allowed to use modern fungicides). In addition, some organic pesticides are as poisonous as synthetic ones (e.g., nicotine and pyrethrum).
Misconception Number 8: Organic producers use intensive tillage for soil preparation and weed control. Plowing results in runoff and erosion. It oxidizes soil organic matter and destroys soil aggregates. No-till farming preserves soil organic matter, soil organisms, and improves surface aggregation. However, without herbicides, continuous no-till farming is impossible.:
Misconception Number 9: Since yields are much lower in organic agriculture, widespread adoption of organic agriculture would require farmers to expand farming into marginal and natural areas to grow the same amount of food, thus destroying more fragile ecosystems and reducing biodiversity.
Misconception Number 10: Organic farming leads to significant nutrient losses. Organic farmers rely primarily on compost, animal manure, or green manure crops to supply soil fertility. The nutrients in these organic sources typically do not match crop demands. It is easy to over-apply nutrients, such as phosphorus, while nitrogen needs are just barely met. The nutrient cycles have a leak to the consumers, which are not replenished with fertilizers.
Misconception Number 11: Pig husbandry, whether organic or not, is a burden on the environment since it discharges huge quantities of phosphorus into the environment. Scientists have now succeeded in creating a genetically modified pig breed that can assimilate phosphorus contained in grains, meaning that little or no phosphorus additive is needed in their meal. If such pigs were to be used in large scale farming, conventional pig husbandry would be less harmful to the environment than in organic systems.
Misconception Number 12: In tropical developing countries, the surplus of organic matter that can be returned to the soil is too small and mineralization of organic matter is too quick to provide sufficient nutrient inputs to the plants. Therefore, the only way to avoid depletion of agricultural soils is to provide them with regular synthetic fertilizer inputs.
Misconception Number 13: In tropical countries, the limiting factor for soil fertility is phosphorus, which cannot be recovered through atmospheric fixation with leguminous plants, as is possible for nitrogen. In areas where there is no natural reserve of phosphorus available, Organic Agriculture cannot work because the only way to maintain soil fertility is to bring in synthetic P fertilizers.
Misconception Number 14: OA focuses on “not using chemicals.” For example, OA research tries to develop “physical” mechanisms for weed control. However, physical techniques can be even more damaging to the soil ecology than chemical techniques. For example, thermo-weeding “sterilizes” the soil by injecting high pressure vapor, killing not only weed seeds, but also insects, worms, and bacteria of the soil.
Misconception Number 15: Because there are many areas of the world where farmers can’t grow particular crops organically (e.g., due to substantial pest populations and particularly aggressive weeds), consumers often resort to purchasing imported crops that travel great distances just because they want organic. This becomes even more polluting to the environment than consuming local non-organic products. Consumers should rather focus on seeking local products than organic products.
Part C: Consumers are paying too much for organic food
Misconception Number 16: Organic food is too expensive.
Misconception Number 17: People can’t afford organic products, so promoting them will reduce fruit and vegetable consumption, which are healthy, but expensive when organic.
Misconception Number 18: The organic movement is exacerbating the growing gap between rich and poor by contributing to a two-tiered national food supply, with healthy food for the rich and unhealthy food for the poor.
Misconception Number 19: Organic food does not look very appetizing.
Misconception Number 20: Organic food is for vegetarians.
Misconception Number 21:Organic producers are too often cheating; reports surface from time to time of fraud and scandals in the organic industry. Organic certification is not reliable, since it is only based on a paper trail.
Misconception Number 22: Organic Agriculture is just a marketing scam.
Misconception Number 23: Consumers don't know or understand certification and labeling, so they can't trust the organic claim.
Part D: Organic farming is unkind to animals
Misconception Number 24: Animals under organic management are denied proper veterinary treatment, such as vaccinations and antibiotics, which leads to unnecessary and prolonged suffering.
Misconception Number 25: So-called natural living conditions include non-hygienic stables and mud, which are sources of disease and bacteria, exposure to which results in animal suffering.
Misconception Number 26: Animal diseases, such as avian flu, are spread because animals are allowed to be outside. If they were all kept indoors, the disease would not spread to animals in holdings.
Misconception Number 27: Today, conventional farm animals grow well and provide high milk yields. Industrial farm poultry produce a large numbers of eggs. Therefore, theses animals cannot really be suffering
Misconception Number 28: Organic animal husbandry standards are not harmonized worldwide, so it would be best if OA did not try to define anything. For instance, how can OA standards allow cows to be shackled inside stables (as is the case in Switzerland)?
Part E: Organic farming cannot feed the world
Misconception Number 29: Organic farming yields are too low to feed the world’s growing population.
Misconception Number 30: To feed the world, organic farming will have to plow under more wilderness areas.
Misconception Number 31: There are not enough cows in the world to provide enough nutrients in terms of cow manure for today’s food crops.
Misconception Number 32: Animals grow more slowly under organic production.
Misonception Number 33: Organic Agriculture uses the primeval forest as the reference for good agro-ecosystem management for food crops, especially advocating for multi-cropping and biodiversity. However, all our important old world cereals (rice, wheat, sorghum, and millet), which constitute the staple foods for most people, are wind-pollinated cereals that have immediate wild relatives growing in vast monodominant natural grasslands and have very little to do with primeval forest conditions. Applying the primeval forest model to these major crops, when the reality of these crops is the exact opposite, is an assurance of poor yields and subsequent starvation.
Part F: Organic agriculture is not more socially just
Misconception Number 34: Buying organic does not help maintain small family farms since most of the organic food available in the market actually comes from a few large-scale organic farms, often located far from the point of sale.
Misconception number 35: Organic Agriculture is more concerned about nature than people.
Misconception Number 36: The organic food sector is becoming a big business, attracting supermarket multinationals that are gaining more and more of the share of organic sales to consumers. These companies put increased pressure on suppliers and eventually farmers (whether organic or not) to reduce prices and increase standardization of produce. Hence, the organic industry, by selling out to big businesses, is loosing its fundamental values. There is no point in buying organic food in supermarkets.
Misconception Number 37: Organic agriculture is labor intensive, which means that an increased burden is placed on families affected by HIV/AIDS or war in developing countries when they practice organic agriculture.
Misconception Number 38: Organic farmers can only survive because they get subsidies; the system is not fit for economic competitiveness. The organic sector is eating tax-payers money and it goes into the pockets of a few manipulative individuals.
Misconception Number 39: Seasonal workers in Organic Agriculture are not treated any better than in conventional agriculture.
Misconception Number 40: Organic certification is another protectionist measure designed to maintain the dominance in global markets of producers from developed countries by hampering access by small developing country producer to developed markets. Certification costs are a significant financial burden on producers in developing countries and create barriers to participation in the organic sector. Certification forces these farmers to conform to developed world standards of business that do not take into consideration the current capacities and infrastructure of most developing countries.
Misconception Number 41: Organic farming is not easy. Organic farmers are alienated by hours of work and work-related stress due to pest invasion and diseases that endanger their crops and income. Most organic vegetable growers end-up with irreversible back problems due to hand weeding and other manual operations. In this sense, organic farming is not healthier for farmers than non-organic farming.
Part G: The core idea behind the Organic Agriculture philosophy (“natural is good; synthetic is bad”) is overly simplistic
Misconception Number 42: Organic farmers can use toxic natural pesticides based on the argument that substances produced by living organisms are not really chemical, but rather organic constituents of nature. In reality, the distinction between lab-created products and products created by living organisms does not make sense scientifically, since every biological process is fundamentally a chemical process.
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