Saturday, May 7, 2022

Organic Agriculture Fails

By now everyone should know that the Biden Administration is a ship of fools. When you choose officials in order to fulfill diversity quotas, it’s what happens.

Among the idiots running the administration is one Samantha Power. She is the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

Now, what does this serious nitwit have to say about the pending worldwide famine, caused by the absence of nitrogen based fertilizer? Why she has declared that this absence will facilitate the transition to more organic fertilizers.

Anyone who knows anything knows that this is a formula for mass starvation. Happily, or not, Bjorn Lomberg explains the reality for those who know as little as Samantha Power.

In truth, Lomberg opens his Wall Street Journal op-ed, the world’s intelligentsia has long believed that organic farming would save the planet and the environment and Mother Nature herself.

For years, politicians and the chattering classes have argued that organic farming is the responsible way to feed the world. The European Union pushed last year for members roughly to triple organic farming by 2030. Influential nonprofits have long promoted organic farming to developing nations, causing fragile countries like Sri Lanka to invest in such methods. In the West, many consumers have been won over: About half the population of Germany believes that organic farming can fight global hunger.

And yet, organic agriculture is significantly less efficient than current methods. It produces less food per acre, because it does not use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. He continues:

Because organic agriculture shirks many of the scientific advancements that have allowed farmers to increase crop yields, it’s inherently less efficient than conventional farming.

Research has conclusively shown that organic farming produces less food per acre than conventional agriculture. Moreover, organic farming rotates fields in and out of use more often than conventional farming, which can rely on synthetic fertilizer and pesticides to maintain fertility and keep away pests.

By the numbers, this is what it looks like:

Taking this and the lower production in a given field into account, organic farming produces between 29% to 44% less food than conventional methods. It therefore requires as much as 78% more land than conventional agriculture and the food produced costs 50% more—all while generating no measurable increase in human health or animal welfare.

As for a laboratory where people have embraced organic farming, we turn to Sri Lanka. Down with synthetic fertilizers. Down with rice production. Up with the price of rice, and up with starvation:

Nowhere is this tragedy more obvious than Sri Lanka, where the imposition of organics has been calamitous. President Mahinda Rajapaksa ran for election in 2019 promising a transition to organic food production. This policy produced nothing but misery. The eschewing of fertilizer caused rice production to drop by 20% in the first six months after the switch to organic farming was implemented. Last winter, farmers predicted that tea yields could fall by as much as 40%. Food prices rose; the cost of vegetables quintupled. Protests finally forced Sri Lanka mostly to give up its organic foray this past winter, too late to rescue much of this year’s crop.

As it happens, the issue is synthetic nitrogen, produced by nations that have been sanctioned for Russia’s war against Ukraine:

Organic farming rejects synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, but there is currently far from enough organic nitrogen to feed the world. It turns out that synthetic nitrogen is directly responsible for feeding four billion people, more than half the world’s population.

Almost a third of global potash, a potassium-rich product crucial for plant growth, comes from Russia and Belarus and most is likely subject to sanctions. Russia also produces 8% of the world’s nitrogen, the price of which had already more than tripled over the two years before the invasion. Most nitrogen is made from fossil fuels, and many factories have had to stop production as the pandemic and climate policies have raised the price of nonrenewable energy. And it doesn’t help food prices that the costs of transport have more than doubled since the pandemic began.

The result will be devastation. Rising fertilizer prices could decrease rice yields by 10% in the next season, leading to a drop in food production equivalent to what could feed half a billion people.

That’s the bad news. And yet, we have known for some time that sanctioning Russian fertilizer production was a very bad idea. And everyone who has a barely functioning brain knows that this policy will produce mass starvation.


David Foster said...

I wonder if Samantha Power knows what the Haber-Bosch process is:

...I'm guessing not.

One reason for the distrust of 'experts' is that so many of them lack expertise.

Cappy said...

Oh for the love of Ulysses S. Grant, Samantha Power again!

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....

Anonymous said...

We are very, very good at shooting ourselves in the feet...

Anonymous said...
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