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Organic farming is best for environment Independent - letters Feb 2007


Organic farming is best for environment

Sir: I am surprised at the cavalier use of data in the Manchester Business School study on the environmental impact of organic farming ("Organic farming no better for environment", 19 February).

The figures for dairy farming and milk production present just one example of the muddle this report contains. With a total disregard for the acres that conventional farmers "buy in" in the concentrate feeds they purchase for their cattle, the Manchester economists have made a direct comparison to organic, grass-fed milk production where all the acres lie on the home farm. This is a bad study, bad maths and bad conclusions.

The crucial point missed in the Manchester study is that organic agriculture is the only game in town once fossil fuels run out. Instead of computing meaningless comparisons between farming systems, let's engage some serious economic brains on how to feed a hungry world when we've "eaten" all the oil and all the gas.



Sir: Manchester Business School is to be congratulated for its ingenious redefinition of environment to exclude biodiversity and landscape. For a long time, modern farming methods have been mired in unwarranted controversy based, it seems, entirely on misguided assumptions about what constitutes "environment".

Now, with commendable scientific objectivity, MBS have removed at a stroke the dilemmas of policymakers as they grapple needlessly with the resolution of irreconcilable objectives. Unburdened by irrelevant externalities, agribusiness can, once again, reclaim its rightful crown as the only rational alternative.

Applying this enlightened approach to other pressing environmental concerns would yield similarly valuable insights. Can we look forward to further groundbreaking studies from MBS demonstrating that rainforest depletion is "on balance" beneficial or, indeed, that even climate change is a non-issue?





































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