Organic could go mainstream says study

The Soil Association has welcomed a report from the University of Reading which said that organic farming is perhaps "mainstream agriculture in waiting.”

The research, commissioned by the Soil Association with funds from the HCD Memorial Fund, entitled ‘England and Wales under organic agriculture: how much food could be produced?’ found that a wholly organic agriculture could produce more beef and lamb than at present, with beef production rising by 68% and lamb by 55%.

Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said: “Organic farming does not have all the answers to the challenges of climate change and diet related ill-health, and there is still a lot of work to do to improve organic systems, but the report, shows the positive impact that organic farming could have.”

The study also revealed that if intensive pig and poultry systems were to be abolished to be replaced by organic agriculture, chicken, egg and pig meat production would fall to roughly a quarter of current levels, making large quantities of grain available for human consumption.

Melchett added: “In the face of the rising prices and scarcity of key fossil fuel and mineral inputs, and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, food and farming systems will have to go through revolutionary changes in the next few decades.

"The rapidly escalating diet related health crisis means that our diets are also going to have to change dramatically. This independent report shows that organic farming could provide us with a far healthier and much more climate friendly diet.”