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We will open the discussion of organic farming by asking the world's leading authority on agronomy, Nobel prize winner Norman Borlaug. Further related reading includes points of view from a variety of sources including growers - Organic? - Fact and Fancy
Nobel Prize winning agronomist
"This year the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament has awarded Nobel's Peace Prize to a scientist, Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug, because, more than any other single person of this age, he has helped to provide bread for a hungry world. We have made this choice in the hope that providing bread will also give the world peace."
Mrs. Aase Lionaes
Chairman of the Nobel Committee
Ronald Bailey (interviewer): What do you think of organic farming? A lot of people claim it's better for human health and the environment.
On Organic Farming
Norman Borlaug: Thatís ridiculous. This shouldnít even be a debate. Even if you could use all the organic material that you have ó the animal manures, the human waste, the plant residues ó and get them back on the soil, you couldnít feed more than 4 billion people. In addition, if all agriculture were organic, you would have to increase cropland area dramatically, spreading out into marginal areas and cutting down millions of acres of forests.
At the present time, approximately 80 million tons of nitrogen nutrients are utilized each year. If you tried to produce this nitrogen organically, you would require an additional 5 or 6 billion head of cattle to supply the manure. How much wild land would you have to sacrifice just to produce the forage for these cows? Thereís a lot of nonsense going on here.
If people want to believe that the organic food has better nutritive value, itís up to them to make that foolish decision. But thereís absolutely no research that shows that organic foods provide better nutrition. As far as plants are concerned, they canít tell whether that nitrate ion comes from artificial chemicals or from decomposed organic matter.
If some consumers believe that itís better from the point of view of their health to have organic food, God bless them. Let them buy it. Let them pay a bit more. Itís a free society. But donít tell the world that we can feed the present population without chemical fertilizer. Thatís when this misinformation becomes destructive.
To learn more about Norman Borlaug, see "Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity" from Atlantic Monthly magazine