Detractors of « organic » shrug as if they know best, while those who are convinced continue to live their lives, thinking they have made the better choice. In between these two views of organic agriculture, still fragile yet each day more necessary, continues and shows regularly that it’s a good choice.
So, organic soil or non-organic soil, is it exactly the same? Some scientists tried to answer this question. And at least, all the studies point to the same direction: an organic soil has nothing to do with a non-organic soil.
Some examples: A Swiss study 21 years long by the DOC, shows that organic agriculture can use 34 to 53 % less fertilizer and fossil energy and 97% less phytosanitary products and produce 80 % of the yield produced by non-organic agriculture. These results have been published in the Science review in May 2002. Of course, this yield is not always the same and varies depending on the crops planted.
This study also examined the soil. And good news for organic agriculture: there are more worms and healthy micro-organisms in an organic soil than in non-organic soil. In non-organic soil, micro-organisms would be stressed by fertilizer and pesticides, so the soil needs more treatment.
Another example from New Zealand points in the same direction. After comparing several farms, biodynamic farms and others, soil analysis shows that the quality of soils are all different: in terms of organic matter, worms, microbial activity and others measures.
It seems also that organic agriculture preserves the richness of flora and fauna because there is a greater variety and quantity of animals and plants on organic farms than on others. Elimination of chemicals for animals and agriculture, diversification and rotation of crops, using compost, letting fields lie fallow, controlling natural habitats: ponds, hedges… all contribute to a positive bio-diversity.
Organic agriculture has more benefits than what’s written above; it doesn’t kill anybody. Non-organic agriculture uses some products which are harmful. Paraquat is a good example that people currently talk about.
The Bern Declaration says: « It’s a non-selective herbicide, useful against many kind of plants. It’s sold as Gramoxone Extra or Gramoxone ® and used on bananas, coffee, cocoa, cotton, palm oil, pineapples, rubber plantations and used by small poor peasants. Syngenta, a company from Switzerland produces and distributes it to over 100 countries but it’s forbidden in Switzerland and in other European countries. It can cause some dangerous health problems and even death because there is no antidote against it. »