Environment and Biodiversity Impacts of Organic and Conventional Agriculture
This paper introduces the industrial ecology of organic agriculture and compares it to the industrial ecology of conventional agriculture. Both sectors achieve the same goal, the production of crops, however their methods are entirely different. Where conventional agriculture seeks to maximize profit, organic agriculture seeks to maximize productivity and quality, both in the short and long term. These sharp differences lead to fundamental variations in results that affect every species on this planet.
Since prehistoric times humans have shown great propensity to consume natural resources and destroy ecosystems for short-term gain. This abuse, over time, has resulted in what many scientists estimate to be over 99% of all species that ever lived being extinct (UCSD). The trend is upheld today, most notably by conventional agricultural practices. The practice of conventional agriculture is systematically damaging the environment, yet because of the reliance on the crops it yields, not much stands in its way. There is, however, an alternative. Organic agriculture has proven to yield just as much crop, while simultaneously protecting the environment and undoing the damage done by conventional agriculture. Organic agriculture is best described by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which states, as “a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs” (FAO). In addition, organic agriculture begins to consider the environmental impacts of conventional farming and it aims to reduce its negative impact. It achieves this goal a few ways. First, it decreases the use of “synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation” (FAO). Second, it relies on the use of “site specific management practices that...