organic vs. conventional foods – literature review results

From the literature reviewed various arguments in support of either farming alternative were compiled in a table. A comparison of these was used to make a conclusion on each theme assessed.

Table 1: Arguments for organic and conventional farming methods

Aspect Organic foods Conventional foods Conclusion
Environment
  • No use of chemicals that bear adverse effects on the environment.
  • Methods of farming to reduce soil degradation.
  • Maintain diversity necessary for survival of various food chains.
  • Appropriate use of chemicals reduces impact on the environment.
  • Economical use of the available land for farming.
Organic farming methods have less environmental impacts compared to conventional farming practices.
Nutritive quality
  • Organic products bear higher nutritive value than conventional farming products.
  • Has more preferable taste and fresher than conventional foods
  • Could offer alternatives for children whose body detoxification processes are not adequately developed.
  • Organic products have no superior nutritious value compared to their conventional counterparts.
  • Genetic modification could increase the nutritive value of crops.
  • Taste and freshness of products at the shelf dependent on other factors such as harvesting and processing standards but not by the mode of farming.
Nutritive superiority of organic foods cannot be adequately quantified.
Health
  • Presents less health risk alternatives for their non use of chemical products
  • Advances in technology used in conventional farming such as genetic modification may present insurmountable health risks.
  • Chemical usage standards may not be strictly enforced leading to imprudent application hence presenting a health catastrophe
  • The levels of chemical use have not been shown to be harmful to human survival.
  • Farming practices such as genetic modification bear potential to solve some diseases – e.g. Vitamin deficiency disorders.
Conventional farming practice could present a higher health risk than organic farming practices.
Productivity
  • Appropriate methods could increase yields.
  • With right incentives and training could provide a solution to global food shortages.
  • Has improved production such as in the case of industrial revolution.
  • Drug resistant crops could be developed to better yields.
Organic farming may not offer adequate productivity to meet current global food requirements.
Economics
  • Opportunity costs such as environmental hazards outstrip direct production costs.
  • High costs of production justify higher prices.

 

  • Use of the available resources to produce cheap food alternatives.
  • Credibility of high prices for organic foods questionable – conventional farmers also incur significant production costs.
Economical soundness of organic farming lower than that of conventional practices.
Control
  • Gives the control of farming to the farmer.
  • Conventional farming reduces farmer control by giving seed companies, animal feed stores and laboratories much control
  • Organic farming only gives control to limited number of farmers.
  • Rights of farmers can be assured by practices such as fair-trading.
Organic farming reduces the number of stakeholders in farming business.
Ethics
  • Humane treatment of farm animals.
  • Prevents the replacement of people with machinery.
  • Higher environmental conservation rating.
  • Domestication to control for diseases and quality.
  • Not adequate manpower to meet global food needs.
  • All farming methods bear adverse outcomes on the environment – focus should be on environmental friendlier technologies
Both practices subjects to ethical issues determined by the scope and context.

Arguments for each of the farming alternatives as presented in reviewed literature and opinion with regard to each of the identified themes

Conclusion here.

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