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Arguments For And Against Organic Food Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2014 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The organic industry has grown rapidly over the last decade particularly in the agricultural sector; today, over thirty million hectares are being organically managed in 118 countries (Yusuf & Wilber, 2007). Organic products are made using biological and ecological farming techniques which exclude the use of pesticides and fertilizers; in addition, these products are characterized by a strong brand image which means that they command higher prices among retailers. On the other hand, inorganic products are characterized by monocultures, mechanization, and extensive use of chemical compounds in order to produce them. The inorganic product industry developed primarily as a consequence of technological advancement the Second World War; during this period, major breakthroughs such as the Haber Bosch process were used to promote the development of organic produce.

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The organic industry has many benefits over its inorganic counterpart; research published by the Journal of Applied Nutrition (2001) revealed that organic food products have more nutrients than inorganic foods this is due to the fact that organically grown food contains sixty three percent more calcium, seventy three percent more iron, eighteen percent more magnesium and ninety eight percent more zinc minerals. According to the Journal of Food and Agricultural Chemistry (2003), organically grown strawberry, corn and marionberries have considerably greater levels of anti cancer oxidants than inorganically grown food products. The research further suggests that inorganic methods such as the use of herbicides and pesticides inhibit the growth of natural protective compounds in food such as anti ageing, anti immune, and anti cancer properties.

The European Clinical Nutrition Journal (2008) found that the average level of nutrients in eleven organically produced products was almost twice as high compared to inorganically produced products. Therefore in the long run if the country chooses to enhance and promote the organic industry it will lead to several benefits such as reduced fertilizer, machinery and fuel cost; organic practices will also earn the industry a significant amount of carbon credits which they can trade in the carbon credit market (Kipper, 2001).

The endorsement of organic industry in the economy will also encourage organic labeling. This kind of certification will enable consumers to have confidence in organic products; improve record-keeping in order to maintain organic certification and create an opportunity for both producers and consumers to understand organic certification standards. Unlike inorganic products which lack clear accreditation standards, organic certification and accreditation ensure that the organic industry adheres to high quality product standards. This certification system has two major components: 1.A code of conduct, standards, criteria and guidelines for product certification. 2. Monitoring mechanism which assures that inorganic products are produced in accordance with certification principles.

Organic industries also prevent long distant transportation of food; the average distance covered in transporting organically produced products is over 1800 miles while that of transporting inorganic products is 2500 miles Therefore inorganic industries consume a lot of energy and fossil fuels which leads to high carbon dioxide emissions. (FAO, 2002), on the other hand, it’s relatively cheap to transport organic products since they are often produced near the consumers. The endorsement of organic industry and organic products will lead to three forms of biodiversity i.e. genetic diversity, ecosystem diversity and species diversity. This will dramatically improve the environment. According to Evans and Grice (2005) organic industries reduce green house emissions by over forty percent which slows down global warming effects.

Another benefit which will result in supporting organic industries is long term productivity and food security. According to FAO (2003), organic farming has a higher potential of ensuring food security in both developed and developing countries. Rundgren (2006) published an objective analysis of the contribution of organic industries to food security. He summarized that although inorganic industries can be used to solve food insecurity issues, its capital intensive and depends on chemical inputs which tend to reduce biodiversity. On the other hand, organic industries can tremendously increase food production without causing environmental degradation or loss of biodiversity.

A study conducted by The Centre for Disease Control (2009) revealed that inorganic industries produce many toxic chemicals which often result to contamination of water supplies. These toxins have tested positive in blood and urine test of most citizens. In addition, the Centre for Disease Control found a cocktail of toxins and synthetic chemicals in most living organisms. Peer reviewed research has proven that most of these chemicals can disrupt nervous and immune systems, as well as disruption of hormone levels. The FAO report (2002) clearly states, “It has been proven that foods produced using organic methods have lesser levels of synthetic chemicals, lower nitrate content and lower veterinary drug residue. Animal feeding practices used in organic livestock production drastically decreases contamination of animal origin products.” p .119 .

In light of these facts, promoting the growth of organic industries will prevent these problems as well as curb the escalating rise in cancers such as leukemia, lymphorma, uterine and breast cancers which are linked to synthetic chemical use. Similarly, the advancement of organic industries and products will curb the spread of autoimmune industries caused by inorganic chemical compounds. Surveys conducted in regions which undertake intensive organic practices have found that cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma disease are almost inexistent on the other hand cases of the same disease is fast growing in regions which have many inorganic industries as well as regions undertaking inorganic practices.

Another benefit of adopting organic industries is the development of diversified landscapes as well as aesthetic values (Haltom & Scalia, 2002). These industries also encourage the creation of semi natural habitats by maintaining biological connectivity which benefits both nature and agricultural conservation while still pursuing economic objectives. Its can therefore be accurately concluded that organic industries lead to greater aesthetic gains when compare to inorganic industries.

Adoption of organic practices and industries offer greater social benefits than inorganic ones. For example, all organic products which have been certified meet International Organic Federation standards. These industries also conform to UN charter of human rights thus they ensure that they have safe working environments; abide by International Labor Organization laws; provide essential social security needs to employees and offer equal opportunities as well as adequate wages regardless of gender, creed and color. Accredited organic industries ensure the rights of indigenous people are respected and rarely are they involved in lawsuits due to exploitation of inhabitants, in the long run these industries provide a lot of social benefits.

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According to FAO (2002) the general social benefits which are directly linked to organic production systems are: First, tendency for these industries to align to traditions of inhabitants and less motivation to follow production paradigm i.e. increasing output via artificial inputs. Secondly, they depend on local knowledge of intricate interactions of conditions from place to place; this usually makes it unfavorable to use large production areas. This encourages reduced land and farm sizes thus enhance equitable access to land.

The endorsement of organic industry in the economy also promotes social justice and fair trade products this is particularly done through fair trade certification of organic produce. Organic certification considers reasonable wage in its standards thus ensuring that all certified organic industries are aligned with principles of fair trade. Furthermore, research conducted by the US bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that eighty six percent of firms in the organic industry have favorable gender distribution as well as promote women representation in senior management positions. Organic industries also stimulate the local economy by using local inputs and reduce the purchase of inputs on credit; this is in sharp contrast to inorganic industries which use imported inputs.

Many firms in the organic agricultural industry use crop diversification, different harvesting and planning schedules related to crop rotation practices which evenly distribute labor demand throughout the year. They also ensure stability in employment, reduce labor migration problems, spread the costs incurred per employee throughout the year and reduce turnover. Finally, diversity in production created by organic industries and value added products boost income generating opportunities; they also spread the odds of failure over a broad range of products and crops.

The US Society for Cultural Development, a private nonprofit organization conducted research and noted that over seventy certified organic firms had were members of democratic cooperatives and adhered to fair trade requirements. The study revealed that over eighty six percent of the firms paid employees salaries which had social premiums in order to improve quality of life. In addition, the organic movement has a consensus in support of the fact that social requirements are necessary even though many critics argue that pursuing these social standards impose trade barriers and restrictions to organic exports.

Loir (2002) studied forty indicators of benefits of organic industry and products in US counties. A statistical comparison and analysis showed that twenty six indicators were in favor of organic systems while eight favored organic systems, six were neutral. The studies suggest that regions with organic farms have better farm economies and add more to county economies through net revenue, total sales, maintenance services, repair, payroll and taxes paid. Additionally, counties with many organic farms have better rural development support with greater direct consumer sales, higher worker pay and greater direct-customer sales.

Organic industries also provide a mechanism for generating foreign exchange. Unlike inorganic industries which tend to import inputs, organic industries export more of their produce especially when they are internationally certified. In addition, international organic markets such as the European Union, Switzerland and Japan have well developed infrastructure and channels for successful exportation. Unlike inorganic products which usually have one channel of selling distribution, inorganic industries have many players such as foreign offices, foreign retail supermarket chains, organic marketing organizations etc. The premium connected to organic farming greatly benefits the economy as a whole. This premium has been estimated to as much as twenty percent above that of inorganic products.

In conclusion, the growth of organic industries and products will continue to outpace that of its inorganic counterpart. Attractive premium prices in the lucrative export market, social and environmental benefits will continue to boost organic firms. Governments and state support are also likely to promote organic systems through legislating certification, export and market advice, development and research. State institutions and private corporations are increasingly admitting that it might be more cost effective to promote and encourage organic systems rather than rectify problems caused by inorganic industries e.g. environmental degradation.


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