Misconceptions about organic farming

Many people choose organic products because they feel they are healthier than conventional options. A vast majority of pro-organic consumers believe that their food is safer than conventional food since it is produced in smaller quantities.  However, from a Stanford study conducted on 710 participants, there were no proven health benefits of organic food when compared to conventionally grown food.  Though many organic producers work to educate people about their products, the public still has some misconceptions.

Below are a few common agricultural misconceptions, and why they are false:

The claim: Genetically engineered animals are not as safe to consume as non-GE animals.

The truth:  This claim assumes that animals either genetically or modified are not as healthy or safe to eat as compared to natural growth animals.  This claim is false, as there has been no proven difference between non-GE animals and animals that have had their genes altered through biotechnology (“gene splicing”).

Genetically modified and genetically engineered animals could be the key to providing more food for less money.  In 2015, the FDA approved the consumption of genetically engineered salmon, which has been proven to be just as safe to consume as non-GE salmon.  This AquAdvantage salmon is fast-growing and uses 25% less feed than wild caught salmon. There is a currently an extremely high demand for salmon, putting them at risk for endangerment. This new biotechnology could be the solution to the increasing demand for salmon.

The claim: Non-organic food comes from “factory farms”

The truth: The majority of conventional farms are small and family-owned.  

Did you know that 97% of all farms in the United States are family owned? As of 2015, 88% of all 2.1 million U.S. farms are small family farms.  Meat for large corporations usually comes from small farms that all meet the same standards set by that particular company. Even nationally known companies partake in this practice to ensure their animal welfare requirements are met, as they want their animals to be healthy.

There are many reasons small farms choose to raise their animals conventionally instead of organically. Many farmers use conventionally grown ingredients to save on animal feed costs. Conventional systems also let farmers intervene with antibiotics if an animal gets sick so they can get better just like humans.  

The phrase “factory farm” is coined from raising a large amount of animals mostly indoors to maximize production. Many people assume the animals are not cared for because they are housed indoors, but this is not the case.  Farmers want to make a profit on their animals, which they cannot do if their animals are improperly handled or unhealthy.  Conventional farms make the most food on the least amount of land, which could be a key factor in helping to end world hunger.  

References

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm472487.htm
http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/GeneticEngineering/GeneticallyEngineeredAnimals/default.htm
http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM473578.pdf
https://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdamediafb?contentid=2015/03/0066.xml&printable=true