Organic agriculture has experienced remarkable growth in recent decades as societal interest in environmental protection and healthy eating has increased. Research has shown that relative to conventional agriculture, organic farming is more efficient in its use of non-renewable energy, maintains or improves soil quality, and has less of a detrimental effect on water quality and biodiversity. Studies have had more mixed findings, however, when examining the impact of organic farming on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change. Life cycle assessments (LCAs) in particular have indicated that organic farming can often result in higher GHG emissions per unit product as a result of lower yields. The organic movement has the opportunity to embrace the science of LCA and use this information in developing tools for site-specific assessments that can point toward strategies for improvements. Responding effectively to the climate change crisis should be at the core of the organic movement’s values. Additionally, while societal-level behavioral and policy changes will be required to reduce waste and shift diets to achieve essential reductions in GHG emissions throughout food systems, organic farming should be open to seriously considering emerging technologies and methods to improve its performance and reduce GHG emissions at the production stage.
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