Most of Sweden is brainwashed into thinking that anything claiming to be “environmentally friendly” or “climate smart” must be a good thing. No politician or newspaper has the courage to challenge environmental political correctness. Normally they are quite rational but when it comes to questioning global warming or GM ideology, they leave all their critical faculties behind and just parrot the dogma. The reluctance to challenge and question borders on political cowardice. “Organic” and “ecological” and “environmentally friendly” and “climate smart” are meaningless labels which have now come to be used to justify lack of critical thinking and to silence opposition.
It does not require much deep thought to see that organic and ecologic farming which produces much lower yields is – inevitably – much more expensive than the conventional – and much more intensive – farming that has been developed over the last century. Global food production is still increasing and there is no global shortage of food today, even though the population exceeds 7 billion. Grain production in 2014 broke all manner of previous records – by using modern, intensive methods. Of course there are still serious inequality and food distribution problems around the world and there is still much undernourishment and hunger. There is actually enough food today to feed the world but it is not all affordable or cannot all be distributed. But the simple fact is that more people are being fed today than ever before in human history. Malthus has been proven spectacularly wrong precisely because of the advances in intensive farming. Global population will reach a peak in about 80 years. Thereafter population will decline but we need to be increasing both the quantity and the quality and, above all, the affordability of food for some time yet.
In Sweden there is a blind romanticism prevailing about anything claimed to be “ecologic” or “organic” or “environmentally friendly”. It shows up everywhere. It is an axiom of all advertising copy that labels such as “green” or “climate smart” or environmentally friendly” are necessary – no matter how convoluted the argument – to get through to the unquestioning and uncritical Swedish consumer. On matters labelled environmental, Sweden is almost totalitarian in its politics. The courage to challenge outmoded and obsolete – but politically correct – dogma is an attribute that is particularly lacking in Swedish politics (and in the media). Consensus has become the new god and seems always to trump facts. Paying lip service to democratic forms has become much more important than questioning the substance. Continuing down the wrong path is more socially acceptable than questioning the path.
So there is much controversy about an article in Svenska Dagbladet today by four reputed agricultural scientists who point out the blindingly obvious – that shifting to ecologic farming would be a catastrophe for food security. The article is by
- Holger Kirchmann, Professor of plant nutrition and soil conservation, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),
- Lars Bergström, Professor of Water Quality at SLU,
- Thomas Kätterer, Professor of Systems Ecology at SLU,
- Rune Andersson, former program manager at SLU.
The belief that organic farming is good for the climate and produces better food is wrong. Only organic farming would be a disaster for future food security and would put further pressure on the environment at a very high cost, writes four researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),
Many today believe that organic farming is good for the environment and that it also provides safe and healthy food. Sales increased by 30 percent during the first half of 2014 (DN 4/11) and the state supports organic farming with many millions. But virtually all popular beliefs about organic farming are incorrect. We discuss this in our book “The ecological dream.” Our conclusions in the book – based on serious research, our own and from others – are unambiguous:
- Consumers get no better food or any better environment if they buy organic food.
- The extensive subsidies for organic farming – about 500 million kronor a year – would have greater social benefit if used in improving the environmental effects of mainstream agriculture.
- Organic foods are not free of toxins.
- Organic food is not more nutritious than conventionally grown food.
- Increased organic farming would severely affect food security, both in Sweden and worldwide.
- Organic farming does not give a lower input of nutrients to surface and groundwater.
- Organic farming is not better for the climate.
The most drastic effect is that we will only produce half as much food on the arable land we have today. Official statistics show that agricultural yields decrease between 30 and 60 percent depending on the crops we grow – at least for grass and most of the potatoes.
To compensate for the loss of food, we must cultivate a much larger area of arable land than today. If you calculate that yields are on average 40 percent lower in organic farming, it means that at 100 percent organic growing needs acreage to be increased by a further 1.7 million hectares, from the current 2.6 million acres. That much arable land has never before existed in Sweden. ……….
My translation of the article from the Swedish is here (pdf): Organic farming – the road to starvation SvD