Organic Agriculture, Food Security, and the Environment

Posted: 29 Oct 2018

See all articles by Eva-Marie Meemken

Eva-Marie Meemken

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Matin Qaim

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Date Written: October 2018

Abstract

Organic agriculture is often perceived as more sustainable than conventional farming. We review the literature on this topic from a global perspective. In terms of environmental and climate change effects, organic farming is less polluting than conventional farming when measured per unit of land but not when measured per unit of output. Organic farming, which currently accounts for only 1% of global agricultural land, is lower yielding on average. Due to higher knowledge requirements, observed yield gaps might further increase if a larger number of farmers would switch to organic practices. Widespread upscaling of organic agriculture would cause additional loss of natural habitats and also entail output price increases, making food less affordable for poor consumers in developing countries. Organic farming is not the paradigm for sustainable agriculture and food security, but smart combinations of organic and conventional methods could contribute toward sustainable productivity increases in global agriculture.

Suggested Citation

Meemken, Eva-Marie and Qaim, Matin, Organic Agriculture, Food Security, and the Environment (October 2018). Annual Review of Resource Economics, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 39-63, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3274156 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-resource-100517-023252

Eva-Marie Meemken

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

Matin Qaim (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

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