Food systems contribute 19%– 29% of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions, with agricultural production contributing around 90% of total food system emissions. Recent research has also shown that conventional farming systems degrade the carbon stores in our soils. Poor agricultural practices lead to a breakdown of soil organic carbon that then is released into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The success of organic as a production system and the ability to overcome challenges that discourage farmers from transitioning to or expanding organic production rely on connections and communication between multiple groups of stakeholders.
This past May, The Organic Center held the first Organic Confluences Summit, aimed at examining the intersection of science and policy to find ways for the two to come together to advance the organic sector. The conference focused on sustainability, with scientific experts, farmers, policymakers, and organic stakeholders gathering in D.C. to discuss how research on organic’s contributions to the environment can be incorporated into government programs to improve the sustainability of U.S. agriculture.
Choosing organic is the best choice consumers can make to combat antibiotic resistance and protect themselves from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a review paper from The Organic Center concludes.
Overuse of antibiotics in conventional livestock production has been implicated as an important contributor to antibiotic resistance. Research demonstrates that livestock produced without the use of antibiotics—as in organic agriculture—is an important part of the solution.
2015 was an exciting year for organic research, with multiple cutting-edge studies revealing scientific breakthroughs on the environmental and human health benefits of organic food and farming.
In 2015, The Organic Center released almost a hundred study summaries and blogs about scientific breakthroughs of interest to organic stakeholders. Research covered environmental issues such as soil and pollinator health, health issues such as pesticide exposure, and several other critical categories.
Two new studies out of Newcastle University have confirmed several benefits of consuming organic dairy and meat. The papers, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, show that organic milk and meat contain about 50% higher levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. They also show that organic meat had lower concentrations of two saturated fats, and that organic milk and dairy products contain 40% more of the heart-healthy conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than their conventional counterparts.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Council has declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils. Soils have been receiving a lot of attention lately, because they are the basis for our food systems, fuel and fiber production, many essential environmental functions, and climate change mitigation. Unfortunately, soil health is under threat: the large-scale use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in conventional farming has been damaging soils and decreasing their natural ability to provide ecosystem services.