BJORN LOMBORG: Going organic might be fashionably green, but it won’t feed the world

Lomborg writes in BusinessDay

A global food crisis is looming, so policymakers everywhere need to think hard about how to make food cheaper and more plentiful. That requires making a commitment to producing more fertiliser and better seeds, maximising the potential offered by genetic modification, and abandoning the rich world’s obsession with organics.

Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine is making less food available, because the two nations have been responsible for more than a quarter of global wheat exports and large quantities of barley, maize and vegetable oil. On top of punishing climate policies and the world emerging from the pandemic, prices of fertiliser, energy and transport are soaring, and food prices have climbed 61% over the past two years.

Sri Lanka is the big example of the moment

Sri Lanka had been self-sufficient in rice production for decades, but tragically has now been forced to import $450m worth of rice. Tea, the nation’s primary export crop and source of foreign exchange, was devastated, with economic losses estimated at $425m. Before the country spiralled downward towards brutal state violence and a popular uprising, the government was forced to offer $200m in compensation to farmers and come up with $149m in subsidies.  

Sri Lanka’s organic experiment failed fundamentally because of one simple fact: it does not have enough land to replace synthetic nitrogen fertiliser with animal manure. To shift to organics and keep production it would need five to seven times more manure than the total amount of manure available to it today.

Synthetic nitrogen fertilisers, mostly made with natural gas, are a modern miracle, crucial for feeding the world. Largely thanks to this fertiliser, agricultural outputs tripled in the past half-century as the human population doubled. Artificial fertiliser and modern farming inputs are the reason the number of people working on farms has been slashed in every rich country, freeing people for other productive occupations.

Lomborg concludes:

To sustainably feed the world and withstand future global shocks, we need to produce better food cheaper. History shows that the best way to achieve that is by improving seeds, including by using genetic modification, along with expanding the use of fertiliser, pesticides and irrigation. This will allow us to produce more food, curb prices, alleviate hunger and save nature.

• Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His latest book is ‘False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet’.

Read the full article here.

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July 12, 2022 6:26 am

That requires making a commitment to producing more fertiliser and better seeds, maximising the potential offered by genetic modification, and abandoning the rich world’s obsession with organics.

Going organic also includes not using herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Without, broad scale cropping would be decimated and increasing the price of food ten fold.

Reply to  aussiecol
July 12, 2022 6:44 am

Going organic also includes not using herbicides, fungicides…
going renewable is not always going well either:
Daily Mail: Solar panels are LESS efficient in high temperatures despite increased sunlight, expert warns – as UK heatwave sparks a FIRE at a solar farm in Dorset

Reply to  Vuk
July 12, 2022 8:28 am

I keep telling you, for solar panels to work best, you need to keep them out of direct sunlight.

Reply to  MarkW
July 12, 2022 9:12 am

Manchester is your place then, it always raining there.

Reply to  Vuk
July 12, 2022 10:00 am

Manchester is your place then, it always raining there.

Oi! How dare you cast aspersions on my town of birth!

(Who am I kidding, Vuk’s correct)

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Redge
July 12, 2022 12:48 pm

Why did you leave?

Reply to  Mike Lowe
July 12, 2022 8:55 pm

Couldn’t handle all the sunshine?

Reply to  Mike Lowe
July 12, 2022 11:51 pm

Because people kept saying, “You have a lovely tan”. It’s not a bloody tan, it’s rust!

Reply to  Vuk
July 12, 2022 9:58 am

NASA news conference live now.

jeff corbin
Reply to  aussiecol
July 12, 2022 7:32 am

Many greens have big gardens… and think organic is cheap and easy because it is on a small scale. Yet they are actually clueless about what it takes to feed the world because they don’t care.

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 7:58 am

“Yet they are actually clueless about what it takes to feed the world because they really are totally, actually clueless.

Fixed it.

jeff corbin
Reply to  BobM
July 13, 2022 6:19 am

Thanks…. I was being too harsh. Most are clueless but only the fringies don’t care!

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 14, 2022 4:08 pm

It is the people on the fringes that drive every movement. They are the people with the “fire in the belly”. If they don’t care about feeding people, then those people will starve.

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 2:49 pm

To be fair, their are alternative biological controls becoming available to control pests and fungus, but still early days yet. Weed control is still the main culprit on a big scale where herbicides remain essential.

jeff corbin
Reply to  aussiecol
July 13, 2022 1:07 pm


July 12, 2022 6:48 am

Starve the Plants—: Starve humanity.

His Majesty
July 12, 2022 6:49 am

Lomborg is right that we need to make food better and cheaper. Green energy and genetic engineering plans are only going to exacerbate costs, punish the poor and wreak havoc on economies, human health and the environment. We need to put more research into developing better, i.e., cheaper and environmentally safer, fertilizers.

Reply to  His Majesty
July 12, 2022 8:30 am

We already have cheap and safe fertilizers.

Dave Fair
Reply to  His Majesty
July 12, 2022 8:54 am

What is your bitch about genetically engineered plant modifications? Mankind has been doing just that since the advent of agriculture.

Reply to  Dave Fair
July 12, 2022 10:04 am

Exactly. We can now pick the genetic characteristics we want from a score card using gene editing we control, rather than wait for random events of nature as Norman Borlaugh did, or Mendel……, .instead of waiting for them to happen, naturally . Faster,cheaper and better. It’s a bit like chemical fertilisers, which enrich natural elements and compounds that plants and people need, yet are called inorganic. Everything organic is chemical, how is a chemical we manufacture any different from “organic” if beneficial effect is to increase the productivity of the natural growth processes that use it?

It really is a meaningless distinction to start with.

This is such BS.

Jack Paar
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 13, 2022 6:50 am

Thanks for asking. The bitch, as you put it, is simply/unsimply [sic] unintended genomic, biological, and environmental consequences.
We need to stop confusing-lumping together genetic engineering with selective breeding; they’re not the equivalent. Can gene edits can be selected NOW, as mentioned by B. R. Catt? Sure, but at high risk for significant deleterious results that hitch a ride along with the promised regenesis: if you’re looking for some examples… Hmm? Moderna and Pfizer come to mind. The GMO industry is constantly trying side-step any concern with their massive propaganda budget- continuously claiming there’s nothing to see here folks! Sounds remarkably like the GWA claims about a different bitch. The whole genetic engineering field is going “faster than its headlights” (quote from a conversation with Ting Wu concerning her husband, George Church who, in his 60 Minutes interview when questioned about how “…some people believe that you’re mucking about in things that shouldn’t be disturbed,” replied…
“I completely agree that we need to be very cautious.
And the more powerful, or the more rapidly moving the technology, the more cautious we need to be, the bigger the conversation involving lots of different disciplines, religion, ethics, government, art, and so forth. And to see what it’s unintended consequences might be.”~ George M. Church
WUWT is a testimony of the necessity of the bitch. Regardless of the field of inquiry, we dismiss the bitch at our own peril. Cheers!

Reply to  Jack Paar
July 13, 2022 1:03 pm

Wow, so much irrational paranoia, so little actual data.

Reply to  Jack Paar
July 15, 2022 2:23 pm

False dichotomy.
Firstly, plant breeding for generations has relied on selection of random mutations – whether natural or driven by radiation. With random mutation, selection for one particular trait does nothing to check for multiple mutations which could be harmful.

The potential for unintended outcomes is far higher with random mutations than it is with GM, because with GM we can change just one gene.

Secondly, GM seed is subject to selection trials just as much as randomly-mutated seed, so your claim that “selection” somehow makes randomly-mutated varieties safer is bunk.

Reply to  His Majesty
July 12, 2022 10:39 am

Lomborg has not made a couple of points. Of the total land area of or planet of 149 million sq. Km. only 11 million is cropland while 28 million is considered pasture/herd lands.  Another 12  million is bush, 39 million is forest and jungle, about 1.5 million is within city limits. Animal husbandry is the best way to economically utilize those 28 million Sq. Km. at present. And the other half of the land area of the planet is rocks, desert, and ice. 

Humanity as a whole can easily increase the 11 million and take up some of 28 million sq. km. of pasture land, 12 million of bush or 39 million of forest or jungle. We could easily produce 3 times as much food. But the price of food has to go up so that more people want to be farmers instead of working in higher paying urban jobs, or fertilizer and genetically modified foods have to be used.

Add to that, over a month people can adjust their grocery shopping, and over a period of one year farmers can adjust their crops to produce more profitable crops for themselves.

At the present time, hunger is the result of failure to distribute the available food, usually due to political strife, poverty, or lack of roads, transportation, and access to vendor markets. The current system of essentially demand/supply market pricing with government oversight of large scale purchasing of staples such as rice and wheat, works pretty well. World hunger has been in huge decline despite population increases.

Political interference with the market to control things like NO2 emissions, the root effect of which will be to make existing farmers poorer, will very likely decrease crop production, induce inefficiencies and supply chain mismanagement based on incorrect assumptions despite their good intentions….

Robert Wager
Reply to  His Majesty
July 12, 2022 1:59 pm

Funny how 20+ years have shown the exact opposite with increased yields, decreased pesticide us and increased profits for poor farmers around the world.

Reply to  Robert Wager
July 12, 2022 2:13 pm

Improved crop varieties and nitrogen fertilisers are the only way to increase crop yields.
Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and growth regulators are used to reduce the loss of potential yield.
The other important factor is to reduce the waste during storage of crops. Proper drying of crops and secure storage is often severely lacking in much of the developing world.

John Burdick
July 12, 2022 6:56 am

Another confirming write up from Shellenberger on Sri Lanka.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  John Burdick
July 12, 2022 8:57 am

I referenced an article by Tony Heller about WEF’s role in the Sri Lanka disaster.
WEF had an article by PM Wickremesinghe- This is how I will make Sri Lanka Rich by 2025
(Aug 29, 2018)- that they’ve “disappeared”. Luckily, the Sunday Times (of Sri Lanka)
ran the same article (9/2/18, which I saved). Both the search result to find the
article & the WEF link say “we will make” vs the “I will make” in the actual article
implies to both searchers & their readers ownership in the PMs work which is now
a total disaster. Also @ the end of the Times article, it states this: “(Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be participating in the World Economic Forum on
ASEAN in Ha Noi, Viet Nam from Sept 11-13.) Courtesy the World Economic Forum”.
It’s obvious they wanted to remove any implications of their role in this tragedy
& “disappeared” it on the WEF website ASAP, but there are obvious links to their
involvement on the Times page.

Lesson learned: If you find any article, graphic, … on a potential perp’s web site,
you may want to save it as it could get “disappeared” if that info will implicate
them in their role in any future disasters that occur or positions on policies that

Note: The PM presented his 2025 Vision at the 2018 WEF.

(The graphic below is the beginning of the WEF article Tony cited.)

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
July 12, 2022 9:16 am

OOPS! Forgot the graphic for Sri Lanka!

Dan Bongino links the use of disinformation by globalist Great Reset libs (Scary Poppins-
Disinformation Minister, Klaus Schwab (initiative for public & private cooperation to
solve global problems), & ESG promoter Blackrock) to bypass Constitutional rights
so they can track, censor, rewrite history & spread propaganda, among other things.
(beginning @ 36:15)

WSJ- Andy Kessler- “The Many Reasons ESG Is a Loser”

(only the first part of his WSJ article)

Tom Halla
July 12, 2022 6:59 am

One needs to consider that organic is only renamed “biodynamic agriculture”, which was very popular with the Third Reich. Heinrich Himmler was a major supporter.
That era was known for food shortages reaching famine conditions.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 12, 2022 12:37 pm

It drives me nutz to go to Costco and they only have organic strawberries…yeah right. Next week they have non organic for the same price.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 12, 2022 2:22 pm

A shortage of food in the Third Reich caused by their farming methods was one reason for WW2.
The expansion East was intended to bring large areas of fertile farmland under their control.
IIRC it was Goering who coined the phrase “Guns before butter.”

July 12, 2022 7:02 am

“Going organic might be fashionably green, but it won’t feed the world…”

It won’t even feed Sri Lanka.

That hasn’t stopped Mark Rutte or Justin Trudeau

Gary Pearse
Reply to  fretslider
July 12, 2022 11:47 am

The damage done with policy prescription to the fossil fuel industry, the idiotic renewables misadventure etc, etc has built in an unavoidable global depression and famine. It won’t be stopped by even an about turn on the Paris accord and the entire neomarxist scheme of global governance (although that is a desperately needed first start).

Schellenberger and Lomborg got it right, but even they don’t fully see the stark horror and carnage to come. The West sees inflation as the economic problem, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is totally a predictable result of mindless destructive policy prescription by the West. Moreover, the CAGW scam has eaten up trillions for nothing, rendering us I’ll funded to undo the damage.

Blaming the Russian war with Ukraine as the cause is a handy straw to grasp by the stupidest leaders the West has ever known. One could argue convicingly that the invasion actually interrupted the galloping destruction being wrought by Climate policy Armageddon. The war will turn out to have been a relatively cheap and quick end to the destruction of our civilization and a much greater loss of life than is sadly already baked in.

Reply to  fretslider
July 12, 2022 1:07 pm

That hasn’t stopped Mark Rutte or Justin Trudeau

Perhaps it has reaffirmed to them that they are on the right path.

Reply to  AndyHce
July 12, 2022 8:57 pm

What has reaffirmed to them that they are on the right path?
Certainly can’t be the data. All of that goes the other way.

jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 7:03 am

I have been growing several thousand pounds of produce in our family garden for 20 years with no inorganic inputs mainly because it’s just easier and cheaper to do it organically.. Pesticides are not needed because the good predator bugs out number the bad bugs. We have very little disease due to various measures taken. We produce our own fertilizer from our chickens. We produce most of our own seed. The only outside input is some occasional mushroom compost waste (plentiful and cheap due to local mushroom industry). Sounds great and it is for our family but the output is not enough to feed the family. There is a huge difference between growing a garden organically and being certified organic. The former is cheap and easy the later if expensive and a pain. We tried growling grain. Grain in volume requires intensive ferritization and planting and harvesting requires mechanization… unless you have many friends who are willing to swing a scythe and thresh and winnow it by hand. There a huge difference between growing fruit and vegetables for the family and friends and trying to feed 330,000,000 people where the vast majority don’t produce one ounce of of food a year. US consumes 31,000,000 Metric tons of wheat a year while producing nearly 50,000,000 tons a year. Any thing that would make growing a crop like wheat more expensive or yield less is just stupid. If the industrial farming industry could maintain or improve it’s yield and reduce it’s cost farming organically, it would happen on it’s own without government regulatory interference. The last thing we need is famine.

jeff corbin
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 7:11 am

FDA and baby formula argh. The world needs to produce more food because people need to feel safe and secure with food. If you torture people at the supermarket, on the media with threat threat threat and tie up on their time consuming non-stop idiocy on their phones, guess what the globe depopulates. Depopulation is one threat worth considering.

Dave Fair
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 9:05 am

Frequently intervention by large, mostly Leftist governments results in net societal harm. Some minor, targeted sector may profit but the welfare of society as a whole is usually diminished. Unreliable and uneconomic “green” energy polices are but one example.

jeff corbin
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 13, 2022 8:38 am

I think of Armenia under Soviet control. First the brutality’s of the Turks and the stupidity of the Soviets land reform that resulted in mass starvation. After the Soviet Union collapse. Armenia returned the land to the people. They returned to doing actually what their grand father’s and great grandfather’s had down…. subsistence/small scale commercial farming… they may be poor by globalistic standards but the quality of life is very high.

Kristen W
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 10:48 am

My grandmother grew up in northeast Kansas in the 1930s. She mentioned once that when the threshing crew came through for the wheat harvest, the women of the household fed them breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, and supper. That was 5 full meals per day per man on the crew. Consider how much manual labor they were doing to go through that many calories per day. That was with a threshing machine, not winnowing by hand.

jeff corbin
Reply to  Kristen W
July 13, 2022 8:44 am

My Father grew up in Western Iowa during the depression. At age 12 hear plowed the fields barefoot with a team of 4 work horses. My Grandmother used to tell me about cooking for the men who worked the horse pulled harvesters… wheat, and oats. Corn was harvested by hand. I grew and harvested wheat, oats and barley by hand for several years… threshed and winnowed it by hand. It was a homegrown scratch brewing experiment with home grown hops as well. The beer turned out great but the work killed by 60 year back

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 12, 2022 10:59 am

“Pesticides are not needed because the good predator bugs out number the bad bugs”

I wish I had anything near the same 🙁

jeff corbin
Reply to  TonyG
July 13, 2022 9:07 am

Look into companion planting. Rotation…vastly important and garden hygiene. Also seed saving open pollinated varieties enhances the cultivars you are using.. We grown ton’s of flowering trees, clover, buckwheat and flowering plants like cooriander….it attracts and sustains lace wings, hover flies and stinging small wasps …they are very tiny)… they eat the larvae of many beetles. Pesticides will kill these good bugs. We had big bad bug problems when we first started gardening on our current site 11 years ago. But we avoid pesticides so the good bugs would have a habitat. I have an old peach tree in the garden that I hate…bad fruit…but every Spring it is covered with packets of tiny wasps. (barely visible)..

This is what we did until the habitat for good bugs was established.

Potato beetles, Picked them off by hand and destroyed the orange egg packs by hand. Slapped the plants with bugs jolted into buckets.
Bean Beetles, gently slapped into buckets.
Flea beetle… only a real problem for egg plant. We tented them
Allium Fly–gradually dig out all the wild alliums. This takes years. Don’t grow garlic chives…a breeding ground for Allium flies. We still use Kaolin clay, it works very well for leeks, garlic and onions. Garlic and leeks… simply sift a little over the plants one in April, May and June. it blocks access for the larvae from burrowing into the bulb.
Worms/moths–Tent cabbages kaolin works some,
Slugs. We still use slug barriers and organic baits in strawberries and lettuce.

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 13, 2022 8:00 am

Mushroom compost, that’s how you are adding nitrogen. Mushroom farmers typically add nitrogen to it. Do you give the chickens feed? More external inputs. Also, vegetables have very low calories. People can’t survive on them as you are pointing out.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d buy your vegetables, and they are probably very tasty. But it’s not a way to feed a population on its own, which you mention. Indeed the idiots are leading us to famine.

jeff corbin
Reply to  JamesD
July 13, 2022 1:24 pm

Hey James, agreed! Organic market farming is a way to make money but not a way to food the people., You have no argument from me. Supposedly it is spent mushroom compost but there is enough cellulose it it to use up the extraneous nitrogen. We grow our garden grows with a N deficit to improve the flavor of the produce. So everything is smaller and denser. Not a good strategy for market farming but it is just a family garden now. There is about a 12% chicken feed input, (we use only 12% of the feed would normally have to use to feed chickens for eggs)… so yes there is a small input from the a small amount of feed we use. If I had been 35 not 60 when we moved out of Philly I would have purchased more land for grazing chickens and cows, meat rabbits and such.

We do grow a few higher calorie items, potatoes and culinary pumpkins but no comparison to wheat or soil beans by weight or with dairy by a long stretch.

My wife was in a panic last week when the flour shelf was almost bare at Weiss mart…. only a few high priced organic bags left ironically….which we never buy.

We never buy organic… we don’t pay that premium… it’s isn’t worth it. But we grow organic because it’s simple and cheap. We are not purest/environmental types at all. Good stewardship but not the crazy mean greenie thing at all. We are crunchy conservatives.

Bruce Cobb
July 12, 2022 7:16 am

The whole Green Gestalt movement is essentially for spoiled, well-off ninnies who actually couldn’t care less about poor people or the environment for that matter.

July 12, 2022 7:54 am

Look up and read about Norman Borlaug.

Citizen Smith
July 12, 2022 8:13 am

It makes me nervous to read about clueless policy makers being responsible for food. It would rather depend on farmers, wholesalers, and retailers.

Reply to  Citizen Smith
July 12, 2022 8:33 am

In other words, you would rather rely on people who know what they are doing. How un-woke of you.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Citizen Smith
July 12, 2022 9:17 am

Who is John Galt?

July 12, 2022 8:26 am

Organic farming can feed the world, we just need to get rid of 90% of the humans first. /sarc
Additionally, 90% the remaining people will have to be farmers.

Reply to  MarkW
July 12, 2022 9:17 am

Yes, but only after farming undergoes a name change by the street committee and silos and meat processing plants are pulled down. also /sarc

Reply to  MarkW
July 12, 2022 9:50 am

I believe that is the plan.
The Wuhan flu was just one salvo in the global elite’s plan.
Energy deprivation will kill off millions.
Without the feedstocks from petroleum products there will shortages in thousands of useful items we take for granted today, not just fertilizer but medicines, plastics and all the derivatives from them.
I believe the whole western world will be stuck in Sri Lanka’s situation with the subsequent social and political upheaval.
The U.S. will have an edge on other countries since we can still defend ourselves from tyranny although the current administration is trying its best to change that. I believe the local and federal authorities will be on our side mostly since they have families too.

July 12, 2022 9:53 am

The intent of Agenda 21, the basis of climate and agricultural policy in the democratic developed world, is to make energy and food expensive and rationed through “climate/environmental action”, with no provable basis for such action in science fact.

Cheap and plentiful was never their plan. That’s what they designed their policies to reverse.

What you suggest requires complete abandonment of ECC policies, net zero justified with net zero climate effect and only disbenefits for the masses. Such abandonment will achieve what they claimed to be doing, making things sustainable for the rest of us, not them, because in fact they designed the climate and food action to create greater energy and food poverty in the West. Self evidently the only practical consequence of the actions they have imposed and still plan.

It already did the trick for Sri Lanka.

Anyone else wants to go full ESG?

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Brian R Catt
July 12, 2022 11:20 am

In the WEF plan, it can reduce the number of farmers everywhere so as to force
us to eat bugs which can convert feed to protein much more efficiently than
traditional animals (feed conversion ratio (FCR)). It takes less to grow plants
than it does to raise meat so we’ll probably get a minimal protein ration. This
will leave Mother Gaia less disturbed & there will be even more area to graze
THEIR cattle & for THEIR lobsters & sturgeon to grow. The UN says hunger
will make us more willing to clean THEIR toilets, too.

Klaus Schwab always talk about needing to solve certain problems, which no one
has ever asked him to solve in the first place & aren’t real anyway. That tells
me the only problem he’s solving is how to put everyone under his thumb,
whether we like it or not!

July 12, 2022 9:56 am

As I don’t chew on granite or marble and I don’t eat a lot is sand, Mostly everything I eat is organic. But I avoid the ‘organic’ food isle at the supermarket like the plague – with or without a mask.

Michael in Dublin
July 12, 2022 10:01 am

While I do not share all of Lomborg’s views on climate, I believe him spot on in recognizing the huge benefit to people in adapting. Alarmists are however so obsessed with their climate engineering fantasy that they refuse even to think about and discuss the benefits of adapting.

Hunter Paalman
July 12, 2022 10:27 am

Many decades ago my company along with the DOA developed something called World Wheat meant to fill the empty bowls in China or wherever. Probably was like Couscous of today.

Another more recent development by others was a type of rice with fortified food value, which I don’t recall.

Does anyone know the fate of these foods?

Reply to  Hunter Paalman
July 12, 2022 1:14 pm

I believe you are thinking of Golden Rice. It is GM’d to produce beta-carotene which is a precursor of vitamin A. Essentially they inserted the Beta-carotene producing genes from carrots into rice.

Has the potential to virtually eliminate blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency.

I believe it was approved for use circa 2018 and is currently being grown and distributed.

I believe that is still a lot of activism against its use.

July 12, 2022 10:37 am

Organic farming using manure as the only fertilizer source is the literal definition of unsustainable. You are basically creating a system with zero nutrient import and massive nutrient export. The depletion of nutrients is slowed by recycling such as compost and manure but it is still a net export system and the system will eventually become depleted.

Robert Wager
Reply to  dkrush
July 12, 2022 2:06 pm

Yup Agriculture 101

Old Cocky
Reply to  dkrush
July 12, 2022 2:57 pm

Crop rotation with legumes and pulses can dramatically slow the soil nitrate losses, but phosphorus, potassium and trace elements go off-farm with the crop. Even grazing gradually depletes nutrients as the animals go off-farm.

Grazing livestock is the nearest thing to “sustainable”, but if anything at all goes off-farm you are losing nutrients of some sort.

Reply to  dkrush
July 12, 2022 3:13 pm

The Moon is a harsh mistress. Heinlein.

Rich Lambert
July 12, 2022 12:02 pm

I fear that to some of the so called Greens, the fact that “organic” can’t feed the world is a feature not a bug.

July 12, 2022 1:00 pm

To put things in some perspective, total world wide food production in 2021 in US dollars was approx. $6,500 billion. Total world wide organic food production in 2021 was $95 billion, or 1.5%. How is the world supposed to feed a total of around 10 billion humans by 2050 (projected population) and at the same time increase to 100% “organic” production which averages about 84% lower productivity than conventional production methods on a per acre or hectare basis?

The last I heard, we weren’t creating any more land, or any more productive farmland.

The answer is: it can’t.

Reply to  Duane
July 12, 2022 3:25 pm

Same question re “renewable” energy, same answer, same people coming up with the idea that it in “necessary” to save the “planet”. Note, they don’t say save the people.

Peta of Newark
July 12, 2022 1:11 pm

Oh dear, we really are in sooooo much trouble here
And you know, I did actually buy and read his book.
It’s dawned now now – I was young and naive and blinded by the endless references and what was/is a real study in the art of minutia mining.
And that Lomborg can be so ill-researched, so lacking experience and so superficial is really genuinely depressing.
(The sort of depression where you feel sad and want to cry, not the sort of depression that comes from eating sugar/alcohol/cannabis)

Just a few points:

  • Nitrogen fertiliser (ammonia basically) was originally and in bright-eyed wonderment, referred to as “Bread from air” Do we translate that as ‘Free Lunch’?
  • Yes Borlaug seemed to work a miracle but doesn’t the enquiring mind wonder why the existant and ancient varieties of cereals didn’t already have short straw and phat grains? There’s goes another Free Lunch
  • If plant breeding is sooooo wonderful and successful, why do the resultant plants need so many chemicals to get them to produce? ##
  • Plant breeding in the form of Genetic Modification is a humongous con, as farmers in India especially found out and why they themselves took to consuming the weedkiller they’d bought at massive expense. (Wait, aren’t modern chemicals safe to consume?)
  • GM plants are always modified so that Glyphosate can be thrown at them with gay abandon. Is that wise – Glyphosate is an antibiotic and potent Glycine mimic – Glycine being one of the four amino acids that make up all the DNA on this planet.
  • Farmers who use Glyphosate, should they stop, will discover after 5 years they can still grow the same crops but using only 65% of the (artificial) fertiliser they previously did.
  • Farmers who apply Nitrogen fertiliser as a foliar feed discover that they only need 10% of the fertiliser they previously used
  • Sri Lanka has been on Skid Row for the last decade. The ‘organic mandate’ came out of desperation that they’d run out of money – primarily because they’d borrowed so much from those sweet ever smiling and helpful Chinese who insisted on receiving the interest they were due on those loans.
  • No, farmers do not need to produce ‘cheaper food’ They already work on a financial knife edge. They need to be paid properly for what they already do produce. Far too much money is taken from people in taxation – that is where the adjustment needs to made. Simply take less tax to leave more for household food expenditure

## We were pointed to, by someone here recently, to a story about Mid-West farmers who were suffereing with a drought. (or some bad weather. maybe not drought)
I visited that story and the farmers were talking with brutal honesty about ‘mediocre yields’ of wheat which turned out to be ‘in the low 20’s bushels per acre

Very roughly, I take that to be about 500kg per acre (half a ton)
Cereal farming, although no-one will agree with me, came about by (lets say) Neanderthal Man – or someone of that general opoch-o-cene.To grow grains, Mr Neander would have had to be using a seed rate of 500kg per acre – because he didn’t have the tillage machines to produce a ‘fine seed bed’
So do we assume that Mr Neander was gaining a yield of 1,000kg per acre?
And the reason he grew that was to use as bait in traps he was setting for what he really wanted to eat = Large Herbivore animals
Thus, despite all our cleverness and chemicals, we are getting only half the yield of Mr Neander and, that is all we have to eat = the attractant/bait that he used to trap his real food.

Does that not tell anyone anything about how deep the shit is that we are actually in?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 12, 2022 5:57 pm

Wow, so many things completely wrong in a single post.
1) No it’s not a free lunch, it just drastically increases the amount of food that can be grown.
2) Until attempts were made to breed for particular traits, plant evolution was more or less random.
3) The plants don’t “need” chemicals to produce, however, just like natural plants, they produce more when fertilized.
4) Genetic engineering has succeeded everywhere it’s been tried. Even the Round-Up ready stuff.
5) There are hundreds of types of plants that have been genetically engineered, the Round Up ready stuff is just one of them. And yes, even that stuff has been quite successful. So successful that farmers come back year after year to buy more.

Never actually studied economics, have you. When we talk about farmers producing cheaper food, we aren’t talking about forcing them to sell for less. As to your whining about paying farmers more, you sound like one of those idiots who thinks the minimum wage is a good idea.

As to the Neanderthals, they didn’t engage in farming, I don’t know where you get the crap you routinely try to sell.

July 12, 2022 2:40 pm

Going organic won’t even feed the idiots who go organic, they are 100% dependent on REAL agriculture to survive. Just like everyone else.

Old Cocky
Reply to  2hotel9
July 12, 2022 10:22 pm

It depends on how one defines “organic”.

Organically certified wheat can be successfully grown broad-acre for decades in virgin heavy basalt soils in rotation with pulses to fix nitrogen and aerate the soil.
It does require cultivating more often than if using herbicides. Grazing the stubble also helps with weed control and takes pressure off the grass paddocks, but leads to greater soil compaction. It also requires being left fallow some years for weed control, but this can be used to build up the subsoil moisture.

It can’t last forever because the other nutrients deplete enough to become the critical factor.

Yields are a little lower, and mechanical weed control is more expensive and time-consuming than glyphosate, but the “organic” premium more than compensates.

Please note that this is “organic” in the sense of no use of herbicides, pesticides or “artificial” fertilisers, not in the sense of horse-drawn implements. 1,000 acres is 1,000 acres whether it’s certified organic or not.

Reply to  Old Cocky
July 13, 2022 8:20 am

You have to plough in the legume to get the nitrogen. So you grow wheat one year, then raise a legume that you have to plough back into the soil, and let the worms do their job. This style of wheat farming guarantees at least a 50% reduction in yields due to the fallow years. And as you mention there’s the problem of potassium and phosphorous (plus other trace minerals).

Old Cocky
Reply to  JamesD
July 13, 2022 2:35 pm

No, it’s root rhizomes which fix the nitrogen.
Ploughing a growing crop back in is green manure. It may help get the nutrients into a more usable form, but isn’t fixing nitrogen.

We started growing chick peas largely as an experiment to fix nitrogen and for the tap roots to open up the soil, but they paid better than the wheat.
They suffer far more from disease if grown year-on-year, so the rotation was 1 year in 3.

That was in the 1980s, on old country which had been in continuous cereal production for 25 years. We also experimented with urea on the adjoining paddock. The wheat yield the following year was slightly lower in the chick pea rotation than with urea, but both were higher than the adjoining third (control) paddock which had no added nitrogen. The return on the chick pea rotation was higher, partly because the chick peas paid well, and partly because urea was an additional cost.

That later formed the basis of the organic strategy my brother is using on new country.

This certainly won’t work everywhere, but does work well in this specific case where available soil moisture is the limiting factor.

Reply to  Old Cocky
July 14, 2022 4:06 am

So, your point is organic farming is a failure. Just say so.

Old Cocky
Reply to  2hotel9
July 14, 2022 4:30 am

No, in certain circumstances, growing certified organic crops can be a winning strategy.
As above, broad-acre “organic” crop production can be successful for extended periods under very specific conditions.
Small-scale labour-intensive organic production for a premium market niche can work as well, as some of the comments here and on the Cuba thread have shown. That comes back to scalability and the trade-off between labour costs and equipment costs.
In a lot of other cases, “organic farming” is indeed a sure-fire loser.
Sri Lanka has shown that.

Overly broad categorisation loses too much information, just like concentrating on measures of centrality without the associated measures of dispersion.

Reply to  Old Cocky
July 14, 2022 2:50 pm

So, you support and defend killing off the human race with this organic farming shit. Duly noted. Prove you are dedicated to your sick assed, anti-human cause, starve to death first. Asswipe.

Old Cocky
Reply to  2hotel9
July 14, 2022 3:57 pm

Reading comprehension is a lost art 🙁

Old Cocky
Reply to  Old Cocky
July 14, 2022 6:06 pm

I should add that what works in one situation may not work in another. Australian farming is necessarily quite different to the UK, US Great Plains, or Canada.

We have rabbits and cane toads as a result of incompletely thought through “solutions”

Reply to  Old Cocky
July 15, 2022 5:28 am

 incompletely thought through “solutions” ” The political left and greentards in a nutshell. And excessive verbosity a point does not make. Slash the blahblah in half and just say what ya mean.

Old Cocky
Reply to  2hotel9
July 15, 2022 4:05 pm

I bloody did say what I mean. “Organic” farming can work for the farmer in very specific cases.
That means it won’t work if the conditions aren’t met (e.g. the Sri Lanka clusterfsck)

As to verbosity, the normal structure of presenting an argument is:
Make assertion
Provide details to support it.

An unsupported assertion is as useful as teats on a bull.

Reply to  Old Cocky
July 15, 2022 4:43 pm

Organic farming is a failure. Period. Full stop. Just as solar panels and wind mills are failures. Just as leftist ideology is a failure. Oh! That is right! Leftists want people to die. So it is achieving it’s goals. And you are defending it. Blow me.

Old Cocky
Reply to  2hotel9
July 15, 2022 5:05 pm

FFS, turn the filter off and read what I actually wrote.

Solar panels and windmills work in certain specific cases, and so does organic farming. The key word is specific.
That is why it’s important to not throw away information.

July 12, 2022 7:06 pm

Long simply a fashionable trend for the world’s 1%,…organic farming”.

I don’t understand WUWT’s interest in Lomborg’s incoherent and often ill-informed rants.

I’ve been eating organic food for a couple of decades now, and am quite certain I’ve never seen even one of the “world’s 1%” in any of the stores where I buy it. But even if this pseudo-statistic contained a grain of truth, where’s the logic? If an emotionally and intellectually challenged segment of society wanted to ban $200,000 high performance offroad vehicles because the vast majority of the world’s population could never afford one, would the WUWT community give thumbs up to that?

Synthetic fertilizer pollutes the waterways and destroys the soil, from what I’ve read. And efforts to find a sustainable way to grow healthy food without damaging the environment should be applauded.

It seems that most people posting here are squarely behind the liberty of movement private vehicle ownership, including trucks and offroad rigs, provide. If one is going to militate for uniform industrial food production, shouldn’t one be equally supportive of communal transport, with all that that entails: poorly maintained vehicles, lack of access when you need them, little or no choice of functionality, and the possibility of the tap being turned off just when your life depends on it?

What’s next – firearm rentals, if you can prove the need?


Reply to  otropogo
July 13, 2022 7:04 am

“If one is going to militate for uniform industrial food production”

Who is doing that? Specific examples please.

Reply to  TonyG
July 13, 2022 1:14 pm

Like most activists, what he believes is unaffected by what he reads. He made three or four claims regarding what the people here believe, not one of which came even close to being accurate.
Typical seagull poster. Squawk, poop, fly away.

Reply to  MarkW
July 13, 2022 9:37 pm

 He made three or four claims regarding what the people here  believe, not one of which came even close to being accurate.”

I can only find one “claim”, and that was clearly expressed as my perception of the position of the majority of WUWT posters on one SINGLE issue. Perhaps it would have been more accurately applied to the most frequent posters, if “accuracy” even has any meaning applied to such a nebulous grouping.

But describing a single instance as “three or four”, is about as inaccurate as one can get.

KIndly name these several “claims” and your evidence for their inaccuracy…

Reply to  otropogo
July 14, 2022 10:47 am

I don’t understand WUWT’s interest in Lomborg’s incoherent and often ill-informed rants.

would the WUWT community give thumbs up to that?

If one is going to militate for uniform industrial food production

Reply to  MarkW
July 14, 2022 9:07 pm

You give new meaning to the word ‘incoherence’. Are you using Google Translate to compose your posts?

Your post stated that I had “made three or four claims regarding WHAT PEOPLE HERE BELIEVE”.

Not one of your three quotes refer to what participants on WUWT believe. Your level of intelligence appears to be on a par with the online ‘virtual assistants’.

Reply to  TonyG
July 13, 2022 9:37 pm


I should have written “support” or “applaud” instead of “militate for”. But if you think Lomborg’s group is not pushing to discredit and eliminate organic food production, maybe you’re the one who’s not reading his material.

I fear however, that your response is simply disingenuous.

Reply to  otropogo
July 14, 2022 7:51 am

I fear however, that your response is simply disingenuous.

That says more about you than about me. I note that you acknowledge my point.

Many of the comments here are about the issue of organic food production vs other approaches, so I won’t address that.

Reply to  TonyG
July 14, 2022 9:31 pm

Yes. You prefer to make an ad hominim attack rather than address the subject matter. Most of the posts on organic food production seem incredibly ignorant of the abundant data regarding not only the destruction of farmland via industrial farming methods, including exhausting the soil of essential organisms and substances that synthetic fertilizer can never replace, compaction, salination, but also the toxification of the surrounding natural environment, and its fish, fowl, and insect life, including the commercially and ecologically essential honey bees, through the use of pesticides and insecticides.

Reply to  otropogo
July 14, 2022 10:49 am

Once again, paranoid ramblings about what others do or believe.

Nobody is trying to “discredit” much less “eliminate” organic food production.

All we are doing is pointing out the many, well known problems with organic food production.

On the other hand, many who back the organic food nonsense are quite eager to outlaw anything that doesn’t meet up to their imaginary standards.

Reply to  MarkW
July 14, 2022 9:26 pm

“Nobody is trying to “discredit” much less “eliminate” organic food production…On the other hand, many who back the ORGANIC FOOD NONSENSE…”

Well, I’d agree to the extent of saying YOU are not trying VERY HARD…But it certainly seems that you’re trying.

You’re not very good at pointing out the ‘many, well known problems’ either. And maybe you should focus your evidently limited intelligence on the much better documented, and hugely more dangerous, problems posed by current industrial farming methods.

Reply to  otropogo
July 13, 2022 1:13 pm

Saying something you disagree with is not “incoherent”.
A grand total of nobody has made the claim that only the 1% eat organic.
Once again, nobody has proposed banning organic farming. Ridiculing something that is stupid is not the same thing as believing it should be banned. Most of us here aren’t leftists, that’s not our thing.
If what you read is little more than organic food propaganda, then no wonder you believe the nonsense you believe. All forms of fertilizer can pollute waterways if it’s used too much. That’s true of both natural and man made fertilizers. Farmers don’t use anymore fertilizer than they need, it costs too much money. If you want to go after fertilizer runoff, you need to be going after the suburban lawns and hobby farmers.

Organic foods are not healthier and farmers using man made chemicals are not damaging the environment.

Nobody here has advocated anything, other than allowing the farmers to choose how they want to farm themselves.

Why don’t you try spending a few minutes actually studying up on the subject before posting next time. All you have managed to do is attack positions that nobody has taken, accuse others without any evidence, and over all, make a total ass out of yourself.

I’d ask you to apologize for your ignorant claims, but I’d be very surprised if you stayed around after dumping your personal load of fertilizer on the rest of us.

Reply to  MarkW
July 13, 2022 9:56 pm

I’ve been “around” for a few years and your insulting posts certainly won’t change that. Almost everything you’ve written about organic food and fertilizer is rubbish.

You remind me of my favourite high school teacher, who, unlike you, was a cultivated, intelligent, and honest person who alerted me to the power of indoctrination when I asked him what he would think if he saw a UFO.

His answer was: “I’d think I had gone insane”.

It was a possibility he simply couldn’t face, and so it is with many who post here.

Reply to  otropogo
July 14, 2022 10:51 am

Translation: I disagree with what you have written, however I haven’t the intelligence of data to prove you wrong, therefore I’ll just throw out more insults and pretend that I have won the debate.

Reply to  otropogo
July 14, 2022 4:07 am

Talk about incoherent and ill-informed. Thanks for this shining example of both.

Reply to  2hotel9
July 14, 2022 10:51 am

And when given the chance, he doubled down on stupid.

Mike Maguire
July 12, 2022 10:50 pm

Putting high nitrogen fertilizer on corn has helped do this:

Mike Maguire
Reply to  Mike Maguire
July 12, 2022 10:55 pm
July 13, 2022 2:43 am

Do sit down in a stable chair and take any requisite medication before reading this-
Halt use of biofuels to ease food crisis, says green group (

July 13, 2022 7:49 am

I like organic and farm to table products. Farm eggs for the win. It’s a niche market. Manure is not a viable fertilizer. Normal cycle is range land herbivores eat grass, crap and pee some nitrogen back to the grass, and then die, returning the rest of the nitrogen. If you harvest the manure and/or the meat, you will deplete the rangeland.

If you watch any farm-to-table Youtube, you notice they always add in an external source of nutrients. They bring in some hay. The pasture chickens get some supplemental feed. The chickens crap in the pasture, but the nitrogen ultimately is being brought in as feed. The pigs get some supplemental corn. The farming methods produce a better product, but there is a nutrient budget, and as man eats the food, nutrients are removed from the system.

Reply to  JamesD
July 13, 2022 1:16 pm

There is no evidence that organic farming produces a better product.

July 13, 2022 8:31 am

In the “farm to table” business, they are usually located near an affluent urban area. They cut deals with high end restaurants and “Green” grocers like “Sprouts” and can charge a high price. The food quality is superior, but you pay for it and it is a niche market.

If you want a large selection of “farm to table” products at a restaurant or grocer, the DC metroplex is where it is at, supported by a lot of “farm to table” and “organic” operations in rural Virginia. DC is their market.

Reply to  JamesD
July 13, 2022 1:18 pm

Numerous studies have been done, and none of them have found that organic farming or ranching produces a better product. In some cases, because insects have been allowed to have their way with the product, it is actually lower in quality.
Also the chemicals that are approved for use in organic farming are more toxic and more persistent than the banned ones.

jeff corbin
July 13, 2022 8:31 am

60 years of globalism has resulted in considerable vulnerabilities that many anticipated in the 1970-1980’s. Everything has a downside especially if it goes too far or is unbalanced. Industrial agriculture and centralized control of main basic food commodities, (grain) has become entrenched.  So, grain like oil becomes a control/cartel/regulatory lever point for global powers. It is a system vulnerable to people who want to rule the world, save the planet, gain political advantage, or wage war, (actual and propaganda).
The only way to weaken the growing grip of global centralization of our food supply is one of my favorite things I think about when smoking my pipe ….a family/community based agrarian movement. Globalization is the anthesis of owning land and family/community-based subsistence/local market commercial farming. Wherever consumerization, commercialization, industrialization of globalism has taken hold, land ownership and family based agrarian pursuits have been vastly weakened, (think USA 1950 and USA 1990 and USA now…. from massive land/farm/family food production to almost 2% and less than 0.1% producing their own food. …we are too busy fiddling with the stupid phone and waiting for the package from Amazon to get our hands dirty growing food)

I am not talking prepper hunkering down. I am talking about subsistence farming in 2022….growing some or all of your own food. Certainly, makes sense for the virtual corporate worker like myself where I have to earn two salary dollars to spend one dollar at the grocery store. Wheat is doable when families work together or belong to a coop that has nano- scale harvesting, threshing and winnowing machinery. The problem is much of the seed is locked up in licensure and many of the open pollinated varieties are hard to get. Hey ag schools… do us a favor, develop OP barley, and wheat seed that work well is SW PA.

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 13, 2022 1:22 pm

So having several thousand small farms in your area makes you more secure than 2 or 3 big farms. Really.
As to your desire to ban food imports, people like being able to eat food out of season, or that can’t be grown locally.
The only way you are going to ever get more than a tiny fraction of the population to agree to going back, is by forcing them to.
BTW, if you think that forcing a majority of the population to go back to an agrarian lifestyle, you should have a conversation with Pol Pot sometime.

jeff corbin
Reply to  MarkW
July 13, 2022 2:09 pm

Hey Mark,

Remember it’s something I dream about when I smoke my pipe! I am not talking policy, regulation or leverage on anyone to do anything, nor am I talking a utopian solution. I am merely suggesting an alternative for people who want to do something different like grow food for themselves as a lifestyle choice not as a self righteous pursuit or political statement. It was once the most prominent lifestyle choices in America. It was what America was about before WWII. Land ownership, farming and subsistence farming was the ground for American conservatism. Like coal and steel the American farm family was a vital strength of America. Nor am I anti-industrial farming, It’s not going away nor should it. I am not a nostalgic romantic wanting to bring back the 19th century. Yet, with the improved nano-mirco scale infrastructure technologies for farming, family commercial farming and subsistence farming could make a comeback. And it is totally scalable from the family that produces $400 a year of their own food to families making a living. I live in a region full of small family farms… old farms (Penn Charter farms) protected from development by various covenants. Food plentiful and widely available at many sources other than the supermarket. Flour mills are plenty full so flour is available but not in the supermarket this week unless it is organic. Booo! I will not pay that premium. As we have seen by the Ukraine grain nuttiness. that a reduction of their input into the global market appears to be impacting our market here. The total expected reduction of their total annual global export maybe 4-6% of what is consumed in an average year. The difference is within the normal annual yield variation. . Why should this be impacting our market? It is fear my friend driving demand. It’s a game. Dependency drives that sort of fear and yes having a few more people growing food in your local community helps to dispel fear. I am thankful for the local grain growers and the local mills.

jeff corbin
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 13, 2022 2:24 pm

The point is to produce more food and more babies please. My point is not either/or but both/and. Both American Industrial farming and and increase in American family farming to produce more food and decrease dependency on centralized markets. More food is the margin that dispels fear to combat the lower fertility rates in America. We need a baby boom soon.

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 13, 2022 4:24 pm

It won’t produce more food. It will produce much, much less.
These “centralized markets” also do not exist.

Reply to  jeff corbin
July 13, 2022 4:21 pm

It was never a lifestyle choice. It was a technological necessity.
As soon as the technology for improved farming was available, people abandoned farming as fast as they could.

I never said that people shouldn’t engage in farming if they want. What I ridicule is the belief that such farms would ever do more than feed the families doing the farming and most won’t come close to do even that.

The only one feeling this fear is you.

July 14, 2022 8:52 am

The problem has never been the amount of food produced, rather its distribution. The globalists invented GMO seeds to increase profits, with the excuse that they were a “better” product.
Crops need water. If there is a drought, no amount of chemical fertilizer or insecticide will make a difference to the plant not growing. If there is too much water, fertilizer and insecticides won’t stop the plant from drowning. Recently, a US study showed that 80% of urine samples tested contained cancer causing glyphosate – an “essential” agricultural chemical. We survived for thousands of years without chemical fertilizers and insecticides. We don’t need them now.

Reply to  Curmudgeon
July 14, 2022 10:42 am

They are a better product. That’s why farmers world over select them when governments aren’t banning them.

Old Cocky
Reply to  Curmudgeon
July 15, 2022 6:14 pm

di-hydrogen monoxide is associated with cancers as well.

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