By: Cade and Travis
Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.
Nutritionally, there is proof that organic farming has higher mineral content than industrialized agricultural products, and organic food due to its agricultural practices does not have harsh chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
In populations fed on chemically grown foods, there has been a profound upward trend in the incidence of diseases associated.
Take cancer for example. Representative data on the number of new cancer cases in New South Wales, Australia has been collected by the New South Wales Central Cancer Registry.
Adjusted to take account of aging population, the graph below shows that between 1972 and 2004 the incidence of new cancer cases per year (average for both sexes) has risen from 323 to 488 per 100,000. This is an increase of over 50% in just 32 years.
However, the harshest effects of the pesticides and other synthetic chemicals which are used in industrial agriculture are pressed upon the farmworkers.
There is an estimated 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides applied to pesticides every year, and thousands of farmworkers experience the effects of acute pesticide poisoning, including headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, or seizures.
In July 2005, a crew of farmworkers were poisoned in an onion field in Caldwell, Idaho. During the night, a crop duster had applied three pesticides to the field but had not notified the farm owner. At 6:30 a.m., a crew of 29 workers began weeding the field that had not been posted with warning signs. They noticed that their clothes became wet as they worked but they believed the liquid was just dew. By noon, several workers were vomiting and suffering from headaches, nausea, and diarrhea.
Not only are the health effects of choosing industrial agriculture as opposed to organic agriculture devastating, but the environment is also better off for choosing organic agriculture.
For one, the synthetic inputs upon which conventional agriculture is so dependent are energy expensive to mine and manufacture. Organic agriculture with its low input needs of naturally derived substances produces less greenhouse gas emissions and is considerably more climate friendly.
Though rarely acknowledged, the chief source of the annual algae blooms that plague Perth’s major river (the Swan) is conventional agriculture.
Farmers pour tons of phosphate and nitrogenous fertilizer on their cropping lands every year. Since, it is soluble, much of the fertilizer is either washed off the soil surface and into waterways (especially phosphates) or leaches through the soil profile beyond the reach of plants and finds its way less directly into waterways (especially nitrates).
By rejecting both soluble fertilizers and pesticides or herbicides, the pollution and runoff from organic agriculture is decreased greatly.
In closing, organic agriculture makes for a good alternative to industrial agriculture because it is healthier and safer, it’s safe for the farmworkers, and safer for the environment.
"Organic Agriculture." Organic Agriculture. US Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
"Advantages and Disadvantages Organic Farming: Its Pros and Cons." Advantages and Disadvantages Organic Farming: Its Pros and Cons. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
Adams, Bryan. Exposed. Göttingen: Steidl, 2012. Exposed and Ignored. Farmworker Justice. Web.