Plenty of people choose organic over conventional produce because they want to ingest fewer pesticides, but it's hard to get away from them entirely. (Photo: Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock)

“有机农业”这个词在1940年创造的Lord Northbourne, a British author and Olympic athlete who helped launch the organic movement. Joined by fellow organic pioneers like J.I. Rodale, Lady Eve Balfour and Albert Howard, he championed farms as natural ecosystems, and railed against chemical fertilizers and pesticides. "The farm itself must have a biological completeness," he wrote. "It must be a living entity ... which has within itself a balanced organic life."

While those words still resonate with many farmers and shoppers today, however, they were drowned out for decades by famine. Earth's human population grew 293 percent in the 20th century — compared with an average of 22 percent each of the previous nine centuries — and farmers couldn't keep up. As hunger spread, an Iowa agronomist namedNorman Borlaugcame to the rescue in the early '40s, using manmade pesticides, fertilizers and crossbred crops to start theGreen Revolution,它挽救了无数的生命,并赢得了1970年诺贝尔奖。


But "chemical farming," as Lord Northbourne called it, lost some luster when synthetic pesticides and fertilizers were linked to environmental ills like cancer, blue baby syndrome,垂死的老鹰队and死区。生态学家从转基因生物体中警告基因污染,并且过度使用牲畜抗生素被广泛归咎于耐药性“超级蛋白”。这在20世纪后期创造了有机农业的开放,今天有一个估计全球140万有机农场,包括一些13,000.在美国认证,尽管有这些收益,有机农场仍然努力匹配传统的农场 - 没有小细节,因为现在大约有69亿人在1940年的人口上有三倍。随着该数字预测到2050年的90亿美元,有机农业的未来仍不清楚。

It often seems especially murky during economic dips, when higher-priced products of all kinds tend to suffer. But does organic food's premium price translate into any real health or environmental benefits? Critics like Alex Avery don't think so — the conservative author and researcher has compared "organic-food fanatics“向恐怖主义群体真主党,并在2006年写了一本书,称为”有机食品的真相“,根据他的网站,”条带有有机神话。“虽然支持者说有机农业只是揭示了食物的真正成本,但是其他批评者表示,它使食物无法实现。除了支持合成农药和肥料之外,他们最近将他们的反映在遗传修饰的生物的批评者上。“对于近十年来,这些农业极端分子已经尝试完全阻止农业生物技术,”艾弗里写道2003年,称为GMOS“人类历史上最重要和最重要的农业进步。”



Early farmers had no choice but organic farming, and they still achieved some major milestones over the years, like taming the first grains in Mesopotamia or turning a thin grass called teosinte into plump, protein-packed corn.



Meanwhile, a rival revolution still simmered below the surface, advocating ancient tools like compost and cover crops. It was led in the U.S. by magazine magnate and Rodale Institute founder J.I. Rodale, who popularized organic farming in the 1960s and '70s as environmental attitudes were already in flux. When Congress officially defined "organic" in 1990 and set up national certification rules, it quickly triggered an organic bonanza. USDA-certified acreage grew by an average 16 percent a year from 2000 to 2008, and still grew 5 percent in 2009 even amid the recession, points out U.S. National Organic Program spokeswoman Soo Kim. "I'm no forecaster," she says, "but I'd have to say there's a strong demand for it, and I would expect that to continue."


“Organic farming" suffered an identity crisis until the late 20th century, but today the term is regulated by governments and independent certifiers around the world. TheNational Organic Programhandles organic issues in the U.S., a duty it was given by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. It defines organic farming as any qualified system that's designed "to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity." The NOP website has details, including a list of允许和违禁物质,有机规定的档案,以及认可的认证剂指南。然而,对于休闲的杂货购物,请在检查食品标签时保留这四个提示:

  • 标有“100%有机”的产品必须仅含有有机生产的成分和加工助剂(除了水和盐)。
  • Products labeled "organic" must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (again, not including water and salt).
  • 标有“用有机成分制造”的产品必须含有至少70%的有机成分,最多可列出主要标签上的三种。
  • Nothing with less than 70 percent organic ingredients can say "organic" on its main label, but it can identify organic ingredients on its info panel.

hen the USDA catches someone pitching unqualified products as organic, it can issue a fine — the agency may levy a civil penalty up to $11,000 against anyone who knowingly sells or labels an "organic" product that doesn't meet NOP rules. But many similar marketing phrases like "free range," "sustainably harvested," or "no drugs or growth hormones used" are often defined less specifically. For example, to call chickens "free range," a company "must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside," according to USDA regulations.



Fertilizers:枯竭的土壤是作物失败的主要原因,这是古代农民常用于动物粪等有机肥料的问题,可以通过释放氮,磷和钾以及各种微量营养素来恢复土壤。用于升压土壤质量的其他有机策略包括覆盖作物(AKA“绿色粪便”),作物旋转和堆肥。But those all involve a lot of manual labor, and by the mid-1800s chemists began finding shortcuts, like a way to make "superphosphate" from sulfuric acid and phosphate rocks, or to make ammonia from trace gases in the air and turn it into nitrogen fertilizers. Despite their short-term benefits, though, these synthetic fertilizers have also been linked to several long-term drawbacks. They're costly to make, for one, since the production of ammonia now accounts for roughly 2 percent of global energy use, andmining for phosphorus耗尽地球的有限储备。如果氮渗入其饮用水,并且经常触发藻类绽放和藻类绽放,也可以损害作物 - 以及人类婴儿 - 并且通常触发藻类绽放和“死区。“

杀虫剂:有大量的杀害化学品可用,但有机农场的预防更多于治疗。封面作物可以在萌芽之前抑制杂草,而作物旋转在疾病之前保持植物一步。有机农民也可能在一个地方种植多种作物,称为“polyculture”,以利用害虫排斥物种。一些“陷阱作物”甚至引诱和杀死虫子 - 日本甲虫被吸引到Geraniums,以及花瓣中的毒素paralyzes the beetles24小时,通常有足够的时间来杀死它们。但对食品的需求不断增长推动了上世纪的全球转变,特别是滴滴涕和类似杀虫剂袭击市场。几个后来被美国禁止在美国困扰着许多杀虫剂的问题中:坚持。在没有分解的情况下,在外面坐在外面的时间越长,积累,漂移的可能性越大,甚至向上移动食物链。安全水平的人类曝光程度很大,但在类似的东西上brain damage和出生缺陷,有些也与癌症有关。根据1992年至2003年的癌症研究的一篇审查,“大多数关于非霍奇金淋巴瘤和白血病的研究表明,患有农药暴露的积极关联,”审稿人补充说“少数人能够识别特定的杀虫剂”。生活在农场附近的人可能直接暴露于杀虫剂,虽然其他人也可以是,只是通过吃一根芹菜。它可以顶上美国农业部的列表pesticide residues on food,其次是桃子,羽衣甘蓝,草莓和蓝莓。

Crop diversity:Growing individual, isolated crops in bulk has become common for large-scale farms, but since it's an unnatural way for most plants to grow, many require extra help. Known as a monoculture, a vast field of one species is risky because all the crops are vulnerable to the same diseases and conditions, setting up disasters like the 1840s Irish Potato Famine. Farms that use polyculture, however, not only enlist crops to protect each other from pests, but can also still rely on the surviving crops if one is killed by disease. And since they have those safeguards built into their farming system, they have less need for fertilizers and pesticides. They also have less need to plant genetically modified organisms, a more recent breakthrough that has amplified the fight over modern farming. GMOs are often bred to be tolerant of specific pests or pesticides, but organic advocates say this creates an unnecessary dependence on pesticides. The agribusiness giant Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup herbicide as well as "Roundup-ready" crops genetically engineered to tolerate Roundup.批评者还向野生物种中的“遗传漂移”发出“遗传漂移”,北达科他州的科学家甚至发现了两种除草剂的抗药物株式植物escaped from farmsinto the wild. But GMOs can sometimes help their natural neighbors, too — another recent study found that a certain kind of GM corn both protects itself from corn borer moths as well as non-GM corn planted nearby.

Livestock:人们提出了动物吃了几千年,starting with sheep and goats that nomadic tribes herded some 11,000 years ago. Cattle and pigs came next as nomads settled down on farms, and modern chickens followed a few thousand years later; turkeys took much longer to tame, finally giving in to the Aztecs around the 1300s. Farm animals were long raised outdoors in relatively low concentrations, but that changed dramatically in the 20th century. Chickens were raised in咖啡馆,又名“工厂农场”早在20世纪20年代,以及生长激素的兴起,疫苗和抗生素很快就铺平了牛和猪肉咖啡酵母。低剂量抗生素仍然先发制于许多咖啡馆的牲畜,因为紧张的条件提高了疾病的风险。但抗生素引起了自己的问题,因为过度曝光可以滋生耐药细菌。(FDA发布了一个draft guidance for industryearlier this year, urging companies to volunteer some reductions.) Manure is also a problem, since it gives off methane and can be washed away by rain, potentially poisoning rivers, lakes or even groundwater.生物技术最近也成为牲畜的一个大问题,而不仅仅是因为克隆的牛:FDA正在仔细考虑一个提议,例如,允许销售转基因鲑鱼。

Costs of organic farming

有机农业的批评者通常关注食品成本的程度,因为它通常比常规种植食物更昂贵,因为诸如较低的产量和更多的劳动密集型方法等各种因素。但那些较低的收益率可以做的不仅仅是提高产品的价格 - 有些专家认为他们在全球变暖已经在世界上一些最大的农业地区开始造成气候破坏时,他们也会威胁粮食安全。以下是一种针对有机农业制作的两个主要论点:

食品价格:Organic products often cost a few cents to several dollars more than their conventional counterparts, creating an expensive stigma that may hinder the U.S. organic industry from growing more quickly than it has. The USDA's Economic Research Service tracks wholesale and retail price differences between organic and conventional food, and as seen in its most recent national头到头比较, the differences vary widely depending on the product: Organic carrots cost only about 39 percent more than conventional varieties, for example, while organic eggs cost nearly 200 percent more. (Prices also vary from city to city, which is why the ERS monitors price data in several benchmark areas around the country.) Wholesale prices show a similar discrepancy: Conventional, wholesale eggs cost an average of $1.21 per dozen in 2008, while the organic option cost $2.61, a difference of about 115 percent. As stark as those kinds of discrepancies can seem during an economic downturn, however, they're expected to keep slowly shrinking over the years as organic farms become more widespread and streamlined, and as they receive more of the tax breaks and other benefits often given to conventional farms.“目标是最终最大限度地减少价格分化,以便在传统和有机之间变得更加窄,”国家有机程序发言人Sookim表示,她没有看到有机食品销售更容易受到衰退的有利。“我只能基于他们在此经济衰退期间所证明的答案,”她说,“2009年有机食品采购增长5%,其中包括美国销售额约为4%”

食品可用性:正如博尔莱格在20世纪中期的绿色革命一样,他意识到冉冉升起的有机潮流回家。Rachel Carson的1962年“沉默的春天”书籍在美国人之间传播了对农药的不信任,后来禁止滴滴涕和新的美国环境运动正在攻击鲍拉·€的许多策略(1996年的右图)。他在2009年去世前几次解决了他的批评者,例如1997年采访随着大西洋:“西方国家的一些环境宝宝家是地球的盐,但其中许多是精英主义者,”鲍拉格说。“他们从未经历过饥饿的身体感觉。“工业农业倡导者现在携带这款火炬为博尔拉劳动,争论像滴滴涕的重新合法化和更广泛地使用转基因生物的东西,他们经常将其作为作物跟上人口增长的唯一途径。It has been documented for years that organic farms generally produce less food per acre — in one recent comparison of organic and conventional strawberries, for example, researchers found the organic plants produced smaller and fewer fruits (although they were also denser and more nutritious). But several studies in recent years have also claimed to dispel this notion — a 2005康奈尔研究found that organic farms yield the same amount of corn and soybeans as conventional ones, even while using 30 percent less energy, andanother study in 20072007年报告说,收益率“几乎与有机和常规农场几乎相等,”在发展中国家的有机农业中增加了有机耕作可能三重传统农场产量。“我的希望”,“一名学习的作者说,”在一份声明中,“我们最终可以通过有机农业生产足够的食物的想法中的棺材。”