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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Conversion to organic farming globally can secure sustainable food system & GHG reductions

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November 15, 2017 Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt | Graz | Wien  Read full ScienceDaily article here

…The results reveal that, combined with abstaining from the use of concentrated feed in livestock production, a corresponding reduction in the consumption of animal products and a drop in food waste, organic agriculture has the potential to play a significant role in a sustainable nutrition system.

In this way, it would be possible to secure the provision of food for the global population even in the event of a population size above 9 billion in the year 2050; land use would not increase, and the negative effects of today’s intensive nutrition system such as high nitrogen surplus levels or elevated pesticide loads would be reduced considerably. Furthermore, such a system would reduce considerably the greenhouse gas emissions from land use and the livestock systems, important drivers of climate change.”

However, as long as changes in consumption patterns as accompanying measures are not implemented, the critics will be right: Organic agricultural methods concomitant with unchanged consumption patterns would entail an increased demand for land. This would offset the advantages of organic farming and would thus significantly reduce or even call into question its contribution towards a sustainable development.

Adrian Muller, Christian Schader, Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Judith Brüggemann, Anne Isensee, Karl-Heinz Erb, Pete Smith, Peter Klocke, Florian Leiber, Matthias Stolze, Urs Niggli. Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture. Nature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01410-w

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