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Critical Impact Assessment of Organic Agriculture

Biao. Xie, Xiaorong, Wang, Zhuhong, Ding, Yaping, Yang
Journal of agricultural and environmental ethics 2003 v.16 no.3 pp. 297-311
biodiversity, conventional farming, environmental protection, farms, nutrient management, organic production, pollution, product quality, risk, soil fertility
Based on its production guideline, organic agriculture has set for itself the goals of minimizing all forms of pollution and maintaining sustainability of the farming system. By striving for these goals, organic farming meets the demands of an increasing number of consumers who are critical of conventional production methods. This paper gives an overview of the present state of theart in the different issues. Possibilities of and limitations in performing the self-aimed goals under the basic standards of organic agriculture are discussed. Concerning environmental protection, in general, the risk of adverse environmental effects is lower with organic than with conventional farming methods, though not necessarily so; with reference to soil fertility and nutrient management, organic farming is suited to improve soil fertility and nutrient management markedly on the farm level; regarding biodiversity, comparison studies show that organic farming has more positive effects on biodiversity conservation; in relation to product quality, under the basic standards of organic farming, there is no sufficient evidence for a system-related effect on product quality due to the production method.