Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Organic Farms Not Necessarily Better for Environment

Published: Friday, September 07, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, September 07, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Organic farming is generally good for wildlife but does not necessarily have lower overall environmental impacts than conventional farming, a new analysis has shown.

The researchers analysed data from 71 studies published in peer-reviewed journals that compared organic and conventional farms in Europe.

This literature revealed that whilst organic farming almost always supports more biodiversity and generally has a positive wider environmental impact per unit of land, it does not necessarily have a positive impact per unit of production.

Organic milk, cereals, and pork all generated higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of product than their conventionally farmed counterparts – although organic beef and olives had lower emissions in most cases. In general organic products required less energy input, but more land than the same quantity of conventional products.

In terms of biodiversity, generally organic farms had 30% higher species richness than conventional farms but a minority of studies (16%) suggested that organic farming could have a negative impact on species richness.

A report of the research will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Environmental Management.

'Many people think that organic farming has intrinsically lower environmental impacts than conventional farming but the published literature tells us this is not the case,' said Dr Hanna Tuomisto, who led the research at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). 'Whilst some organic farming practices do have less environmental impact than conventional ones, the published evidence suggests that others are actually worse for some aspects of the environment. People need to realise that an "organic" label is not a straightforward guarantee of the most environmentally-friendly product.
'The literature survey revealed a lot of variation between the different environmental impacts of farming, which is the result of very different management practices at different organic and conventional farms. This suggests that there could be a lot to gain by moving beyond the simplistic "organic" versus "conventional" debate and look at how to combine the most environmentally-friendly practices from both types of farming.'

The researchers suggest that reducing the environmental impacts of farming is a priority, as is biodiversity conservation on farmland. They also conclude that introducing new techniques could help to reduce the environmental impact of all types of farms: anaerobic digesters could be used to convert animal waste into biogas for heating and electricity, livestock could be selectively bred to reduce nitrogen and methane emissions, and new crops could be developed to reduce the need for pesticides or harness nutrients more efficiently.

Development of these technologies would be in addition to the crucially important task of better understanding the ecology of nature on farmland and so how to manage the landscape for the best outcomes for farming, biodiversity and the wider environment.

The researchers believe that ensuring food production while minimising damage to the environment and safeguarding wildlife is a priority. The happiest outcome would be to develop farming systems that produce high yields with low environmental impacts and that also take into account alternative land uses – such as setting land aside for wildlife habitats and sustainable forestry.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Misfiring Drugs Hit the Wrong Targets
Anti-HIV protein inhibitor drugs can bind to the wrong protein, causing unwanted side effects.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Sweet Spot of Human Immune System
Scientists propose answer to how the human immune system scales its response in proportion to threat to make it 'just right'.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
HIV Hides No Longer
Researchers are working to create proteins that clear HIV-infected cells in order to eliminate latent infection and dormancy.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Type 2 Diabetes Genetics Revealed
The largest study of its kind into type 2 diabetes has produced the most detailed picture to date of the genetics underlying the condition.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Massive Helium Discovery a "Game Changer" for Medical Industry
A new development is gas exploration has yielded the discovery of a huge helium gas field, which could help relieve the dwindling supply.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Genetic Research Can Significantly Improve Drug Development
With drug development costs topping $1.2bn (£850 million) to get a single treatment to the point it can be sold and used in the clinic, could genetic analysis save hundreds of millions of dollars?
Friday, June 17, 2016
Genes That Increase Children's Risk Of Blood Infection Identified
A team led by Oxford University has identified genes that make certain children more susceptible to invasive bacterial infections by performing a large genome-wide association study in African children.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Universal Flu Vaccine Under Development
Oxford spinout company Vaccitech has been launched with £10m seed investment to develop a universal flu vaccine already showing promise in clinical trials.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Biomarker Discovery Offers Hope For New TB Vaccine
A team of scientists led by Oxford University have made a discovery that could improve our chances of developing an effective vaccine against Tuberculosis.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Novel Collagen Fingerprinting Identifies A Neanderthal
Study from the universities of Oxford and Manchester uses ZooMS technique to identify traces of an extinct human.
Friday, April 01, 2016
Origin of a Species
A study by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University has uncovered the key role played by a single gene in how groups of animals diverge to form new species.
Monday, February 15, 2016
HIV Keeps Growing, Even When Undetectable
A team of international researchers including scientists from Oxford University has found that HIV is still replicating in lymphoid tissue even when it is undetectable in the blood of patients on antiretroviral drugs.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Bacterial Superglue for Faster Vaccine Development
An interdisciplinary team of Oxford University researchers has devised a new technique to speed up the development of novel vaccines.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Millions at Risk of Little Known Deadly Tropical Disease
Melioidosis, a difficult to diagnose deadly bacterial disease, is likely to be present in many more countries than previously thought.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Identifying Drug Resistance Traits
Scientists have developed an easy-to-use computer program that can quickly analyse bacterial DNA from a patient's infection and predict which antibiotics will work, and which will fail due to drug resistance.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Scientific News
Integrated Omics Analysis
Studying multi-omics promises to give a more holistic picture of the organism and its place in its ecosystem, however despite the complexities involved those within the field are optimistic.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Salford Lung Study - The First Real World Clinical Trial
In this podcast, we learn about the Salford Lung Study and its potential to revolutionize the way we assess new drugs and treatments around the world.
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
Structure of Primary Cannabinoid Receptor is Revealed
The findings provide key insights into how natural and synthetic cannabinoids including tetrahydrocannabinol —a primary chemical in marijuana—bind at the CB1 receptor to produce their effects.
Overlooked Molecules Could Revolutionise our Understanding of the Immune System
Researchers have discovered that around one third of all the epitopes displayed for scanning by the immune system are a type known as ‘spliced’ epitopes.
Illumina Contributes to ClinVar Database
The contribution includes variants of all classifications, from pathogenic to benign, identified during interpretation of whole genome sequences generated in the CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited Illumina Clinical Services Laboratory.
Agilent Presents Early Career Professor Award to Dr. Roeland Verhaak
JAX professor recognized for the development and implementation of workflows for the analysis of big-data from transcriptomics to next generation sequencing approaches.
NIH Study Determines Key Differences between Allergic and Non-Allergic Dust Mite Proteins
Researchers at NIH have uncovered factors that lead to the development of dust mite allergy and assist in the design of better allergy therapies.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos