If the whole world eats organic food
Buying organic avocados at a natural food supermarket may give you a warm and loving feeling, and may give you a sense of moral superiority compared to those who buy regular avocados. But can this sense of superiority drive people around the world to eat organic food?
In a study published in Nature Communications, scientists explored this issue. The answer is that the idea of people all over the world eating organic food is technically feasible, but only if we significantly reduce food waste, use organic feed to feed livestock, reduce the scale of livestock production, and significantly expand agricultural land. In addition, if climate change becomes more severe, we will need to devote more land to the development of organic agriculture.
Therefore, it may happen that people all over the world eat organic food, but it is unrealistic to eat organic food at 100 per cent.
At present, 1.5 billion hectares (15 million square kilometers) of land are used for agricultural production in the world, which is roughly twice the total area of Australia (7617930 square kilometers). Organic agriculture-that is, do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other substances and do not use genetically modified crops in traditional agriculture, of which about 1% of farmers in Western Europe and the United States are engaged in organic agriculture, which usually relies on crop rotation to maintain soil fertility and ease of cultivation.
By 2050, the world's population will increase to 9 billion, while agricultural production will need to increase by 50%, and the popularization of organic food will become increasingly difficult.
Assuming traditional agriculture continues to be the dominant mode of production, the world would need to convert only an additional 0.5 billion hectares of land to agriculture (assuming only moderate damage to crops from climate change). However, due to the low yield of organic crops, assuming that the current agricultural production mode is completely transformed into organic agricultural production, the area of agricultural land needs to be doubled (that is, from 0.5 billion hectares to 1 billion hectares) in order to fully achieve the output of traditional agriculture. This conclusion is based on the highest yield of 1.5 billion hectares of farmland that has been put into production.
The addition of large amounts of agricultural land is a heavy burden on the world's land. While there are benefits to doing so, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and maintaining biodiversity in the surrounding environment, it is by no means the only way we can change our organic agricultural production systems to be fully organic.
Meat consumption, one of the hallmarks of diets in developed countries, will decline. Organic production by itself does not significantly reduce meat consumption, but if organic production is combined with the reduction of livestock and poultry feed, the situation will be very different (organic agriculture has turned most of the crops originally used for livestock and poultry feed into organic products for human consumption), so that in most diets, the protein content of human beings from meat has dropped from 38% to 11%.
Recently, another study carried out an extreme simulation of this situation-that is, assuming that people all over the world are vegetarians in the United States. The results show that this simulation can not meet everyone's nutritional needs (let alone satisfy public opinion). At the same time, it shows how great a challenge it is to make everyone eat no meat.
In addition to reducing meat consumption, we must also stop wasting food (another hallmark of those developed countries, especially the United States, which typically waste about half of their produce). This leads the author to conclude that in the agricultural production system, in order to completely transform the mode of production into organic production, it is necessary to provide the same total output as traditional agriculture, which is not feasible in the reference scenario.
However, in addition to going to extremes, the authors of this study also believe that in the sustainable development strategy of the organic agricultural production system, humans can adopt the "Goldilocks principle" (meaning that everything must have a degree and cannot exceed the limit). Let all people in the world participate in the popularization and implementation of organic agriculture.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the scientist who led the study said: "We need to use the potential strategies we have to avoid going to extremes and ignoring other effective methods".
The results of the study show that organic production, cutting meat production by 50% and reducing food waste are both difficult but not impossible. It is undeniable that the global problems facing mankind today are much more difficult than before.
Source: Shell Net
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