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Industrialized Farming vs. Organic Farming

21 Dec 2016Business Essays

The rising demand for production in the farming industry has led to many new developments in this field. Numerous different types of farming techniques and methods have been conceptualized, employed and perfected throughout the years. As such, many different types of farming have come into existence. Two of these are organic farming and industrialized farming.

There are many arguments as to which of these two types of farming are most effective and most practical in this day and age. Many studies and researches have been conducted to identify the various advantages and disadvantages involved with both types of farming. Many have also taken sides in the debate of organic farming or industrialized farming. It is my stand that of the two, organic farming is the wiser choice of our generation; perhaps in fact, of all generations.

This paper will aim to show the different winning points of organic farming over industrialized farming. Arguments will be based on substantial evidence that will point to the obvious choice between the two types of farming.

Why Organic Farming?

Organic farming is a type of farming that remains true to its name, organic. Farmers practicing this particular technique do not make use of synthetic or chemical-based products for improvement in their product quality or yield. This means that they do not make use of substances such as plat growth regulators, pesticides, livestock feed additives, and fertilizers. Rather, the focus of organic farmers is on the benefits that they can acquire from nature-based processes such as crop rotation, compost, integrated pest management, crop residue, and mechanical cultivation for maintenance of soil productivity and controlling of agricultural pests. (Paull, 2006)

Methods

The application of organic farming involves the use of different methods that vary across farmers. Despite the variety in the different methods, however, the main goals and the ultimate ideal of organic farmers are the same. The first involves what has already been said, organic farming excludes the application or use of synthetic chemicals and synthetic agricultural products in the production process.

Second, it takes into consideration soil protection from different factors including soil erosion, and nutrient depletion. This is done through the practice of cover cropping, crop rotation, mulching, and green manure. Third, organic farming promotes biopersity. This is visible in the fact that organic farmers plant a variety of different types of produce on their land rather than choosing only a single crop. Lastly, organic farmers promote the use of outdoor grazing for feeding livestock and poultry. (Paull, 2006)

Although these are common goals and visions for organic farmers around the world, the different governments and authorities within each given country have their own standards for what can be classified as organic. These standards are different for different countries. These typically do not involve rigid guidelines involving all the goals stated above but rather focus only on the bare essentials of organic production.

Health Risks

Studies have shown that because of the minimal use of synthetic fertilizers, organic farming poses lower health risks to inpiduals whose diets are built upon the products of the said type of farming. Other research have shown that levels of organophosphorus pesticide exposure were significantly lower for children eating organic food products as opposed to those whose diets consisted of conventional food. Neurological health risks were assessed to be lower in children with intake of food coming from organic farms as opposed to those whose food was from other sources. (Curl, 2003)

This only goes to show that the organic nature of these products allow for higher nutritional values. Studies have found few reasons to discredit the health values of organic farming. Also, the use of natural, minimally-processed, non-synthetic products for the production process ensures healthy relatively risk-free consumption for buyers and inpiduals patronizing organic farming.

Environmental Effects

The different environmental effects of organic farming are all positive in that they promote the development of the environment. Simply taking a look at the different goals of organic farming, one can confidently say that it is an environment-friendly process. It ensures the protection of the soil, and minimal runoff as only a minimal amount of pesticide is used. Also, not using pesticides avoids nutrient leaching which may cause algal blooms and dead zones in the surrounding of the farm. (Paull, 2006)

Why not Industrialized Farming?

Industrialized farming, unlike organic farming, espouses the use of synthetic biochemicals in the production process. Industrialized farming is applied through a specific set of methods which are basically scientific in foundation. Newly innovated technology is the instrument though which industrialized farming grows and sustains that growth.

Farmers involved in the industrialization of the agriculture industry employ the use of methods that are economically practical. This means that the goal is largely mass production of products at cheaper cost. It is also largely political in nature.

Health Risks

Although industrialized farming is the source of most of the world’s food, studies have found that this type of farming has a number of different health risks. Through the years, industrialized agriculture has been one of the greatest causes of work-related fatalities. This is because of the different equipment these farmers use in order to increase product yield and product quality.

It has also been seen that due to the constant use of pesticides and other chemical sprays for crop development, most inpiduals involved with this type of farming are prone to respiratory diseases. These include asthma, chronic bronchitis, farmer’s lung, organic dust toxic syndrome, and silo filler’s disease. These are problems that are pervasive in the agricultural industry. (Kendall, 1998)

Environmental Effects

Researchers have found that industrialized farming techniques have serious detrimental effects to the environment. The use of synthetic fertilizers and the like can lead to the nutritional leaching of the soil thus causing algal blooms, eutrophication and dead zones in the surrounding rivers and areas.

Other effects include the carrying of the highly dangerous chemical content of pesticides to surrounding areas of the farm. When the wind or water passing through an industrialized farm carry these pesticides to surrounding areas, other organisms, which were not the target of the spary, are affected and perhaps even killed by the chemicals. Fertilizers and heavy metals are also subject to this run-off. (Pimentel, 1995)

Also, it has been found that the methods of industrialized farming have a greater tendency to kill the soil. The mass production and the use of synthetic material to enhance growth and quicken yield have prevented the soil from replenishing and healing itself. Over-irrigation during the production process has caused the damage of approximately 10% to 20% of the earth’s arable land. An estimated one-third of the available farmland in the world has been deemed useless and abandoned due to the ruin caused to the said land by erosion. It is thus the case that industrialized farming strategies work the farmer’s land almost to death. (Pimentel, 1995)

Conclusion

Although industrialized farming has been the cause for the rise in food production, 25% per capita, and the reason for the lowering in food prices by 40% over the last 40 years, it is clearly not the better option in the long run. More food is not the answer we should be looking for but rather good food. Quality and nutritional value should be foremost in the minds of the consumers and it is only organic farming that assures this.

Also, the effects of industrialized farming on the environment give little hope for the future of our agricultural industry. We must look to the future and consider how food production will be like if we continue on the destructive path of industrialized farming. Sustainable farming techniques should be the solution and organic farming, which has been around for ages proving its sustainability, is the answer to this.

References

  • Curl, C. L. (2003). Organophosphorous pesticide exposure of urban and suburban preschool children with organic and conventional diets. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(3). Retrieved December 7, 2007
  • Kendall, T. (1998). Health consequences of industrialized agriculture for farmers in the the United States. Human Organization, Retrieved December 7, 2007
  • Paull, J. (2006). The Farm as Organism: The Foundational Idea of Organic Agriculture. Journal of Bio-DynamicsTasmania, 83, 14-18
  • Pimentel (1995). Environmental and Economic Costs of Soil Erosion and Conservation Benefits. Science, 267, 1111-1237.

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