To make organic sustainable, must include environmental best practices in regulations

By Natasha Gilbert

Its easy to think that buying organic food helps to support local communities and protect the environment from the heavy hand of big agriculture. But the reality is not so clear cut. A detailed new analysis finds that organic farming is not always more upstanding than its conventional counterpart.

One of trickiest challenges facing society is how to produce enough food for growing populations without wrecking the environment and local communities. A study published on March 10 in the journal Science Advances finds that organic agriculture is not the holy grail of sustainable agriculture that its image suggests.

Its not enough just to do organic, said Verena Seufert, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a lead author of the study.

There is not a single answer to whether organic performs better or worse than conventional agriculture, she added.

The study finds that organic farming is better than conventional agriculture in some important ways.