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BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FARMING

Organic Farming Is Good for Human Health

Organic farming is essential to promoting human health because it’s designed to grow food without the use of toxic substances that are strongly linked to disease and interfere with healthy development.

Less Pesticides in Food Means Less in your body

Eating organic foods can decrease the levels of pesticide metabolites detected in human. An industry-wide conversion to organic produce would eliminate more than 95 percent of pesticide dietary risk.

Pesticides Increase Risk of Cancer.

Exposure to chemicals commonly used in nonorganic agriculture have been linked to almost every type of cancer, including brain, breast, colon, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, kidney, testicular and stomach, as well as cancer of the central nervous system.

Reducing Risk to Rural Families.

Pesticide exposure can increase risk of cancer in all populations, those with the highest risk of environmental exposure are farmers and those working and living in agricultural areas.

Pesticides Affect Neurodevelopment

In addition to cancer, there is compelling evidence that exposure to chemicals can lead to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative issues, and even cause epigenetic (DNA-level) changes that are passed on to future generations.
Children with higher urinary levels of Ops (organophosphate) are at least two times as likely to have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than children with levels below the mean.

Organic Can Provide More Key Nutrients

The challenges organic plants face, such as fighting off pests without the help of pesticides and scavenging the soil to access nutrients rather than having synthetic nutrients instantly available, lead organic plants to build up antioxidant and nutrient stores to protect and strengthen themselves.

The linkage between improved soil quality/stronger plants and more nutrient-dense food supports a basic principle of organic farming—feed the soil to better feed the plant.

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The level of secondary metabolites such as vitamins, antioxidants and minerals in organic product is on average 12 percent higher than in nonorganic samples

Organic Farming Is Good for the Economy

While many industries have shed employees, organic farming has been hiring workers, adding farmers and increasing revenue. The organic industry has grown from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $29 billion in 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2011 industry survey.

Organic Farming Is Good for the Environment

Organic Farming Is Good for Soil

Organic farming has heralded a new renaissance of soil stewardship that offers numerous benefits to the planet and humanity.
Crucial soil functions such as water-holding capacity, soil microbial activity and nutrient cycling are strongly influenced by the structure of the soil, particularly the degree to which it forms soil aggregates. Without soil aggregate formation, soil erodes easily via wind or rain
Soil microorganisms, found in abundance in organically managed soils, secrete glue-like substances that help hold soil particles together. Organic methods—such as crop rotation, cover crops, green manures and use of composted and raw animal manures—help enhance microbial activity and improve soil quality. Conversely, inputs used in nonorganic farming—including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fumigants—destroy many of these microorganisms, resulting in lower concentrations of soil aggregates.

Organic Methods Build Better Soil.

In comparison to nonorganic management, organic farming increases soil organic matter, enhancing the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, cycle nutrients and absorb water.

Healthy Soils Resist Disease.

Improved soil quality can increase crop resistance to disease. A common soil-borne fungus that affects hundreds of plants, was three to five times less prevalent on farms where synthetic pesticides were not used than on conventional farms. While the mechanisms for this are still unknown, scientist speculate that it may involve signaling between plants and soil, perhaps mediated by soil organic matter.

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Organic Farming Is Good for Water Quality and Aquatic Life

Water may well become the largest problem facing global agricultural production in the very near future. Not surprisingly, food production practices can have a strong impact on water quality.

Fewer Toxins in Water Supply.

Ground and surface water can be contaminated by the pesticides, fertilizers and animal wastes that are not absorbed by plants or soil. The synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fungicides used in nonorganic farming also enter drinking water supplies, posing a variety of threats to human health.

Less Nitrogen Leaching.

One of the most widely known impacts of agriculture on water quality occurs when fertilizer leaches into groundwater and runoff, polluting water supplies and causing the well-known “dead zone”. Runoff causes algae to grow uncontrollably, which depletes oxygen from the water and literally suffocates marine life. Excess nitrogen fertilizer also causes weeds to take over ponds, reservoirs and lakes as well.

In organic systems, biological fertilizer sources release nutrients slowly over time, providing more opportunity for nutrients to be digested by soil organisms and held in the soil instead of leaching below the root zone. Because of this, a growing coalition of hydrologists, water quality experts and conservation leaders is advocating for organic and sustainable farming.

Organic Farming Is Good for Biodiversity

“If honeybees become extinct, human society will follow in four years.”
–Albert Einstein

Organic farming supports diverse populations of pollinators—a very important part of agriculture.

Birds Migrate to Organic. Organic practices also support diversity in bird populations. Bird abundance on organic sites was 2.6 times higher than on nonorganic sites, and the average number of bird species was 2.0 times greater.

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Organic Farming Is Good for Combating Climate Change

Because organic farming practices help improve soil structure, water-holding capacity and nutrient cycling, these farms are more resilient in the face of climatic extremes. In regards to slowing down climate change, in organic agriculture there are two primary strategies: sequestering carbon in agricultural soils and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon Sequestration. World soils hold more carbon than the amounts in the atmosphere and all vegetation combined. Because organic management increases soil organic matter, it directly results in higher carbon sequestration.

Reducing GHG (Greenhouse gas) Production.

An accurate accounting of emissions must consider both direct and indirect sources of emissions in the entire farming system. Direct emissions arise from the farming practices themselves while indirect sources are the amount of greenhouse gases generated in manufacture of inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides, used on the farm. Recent studies are documenting that organic farming results in an overall negative balance of greenhouse gases; in other words, organic farms absorb more greenhouse gases than they release.

Organic farming generates almost 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than nonorganic agriculture and 80 percent less ozone-depleting emissions. Much of these energy savings were from not using synthetic fertilizers

Organic Farming Saves Energy

One way to reduce greenhouse gases is to decrease overall energy use. Due to the high energy costs associated with synthetic fertilizers, organic crop production consumed only about 40 percent of the energy utilized by nonorganic production.

Based on a Report from the Organic Farming Research Foundationwith additional research from Organic Processing Magazine

 

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