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Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Reports Show Less Water Used In Organic Farming

Sellers of organic products all say the same thing: their products are
better for our health and for the environment. So if you're planning on
chowing on organic cranberries, yams and free-range turkys this
Thanksgiving, rest assured that your meal is good for you and Mother Earth
on a different level. Organic farming also uses less water than commercial
farming methods.

Large quantities of water are used for farming around the world, and some
environmentalists argue this has contributed to the global water crisis.
According to PeopleandPlanet.net, over two-thirds of the freshwater used by
humans annually around the world is used for crop irrigation. In Africa, for
example, the Nile River loses 90 percent of its water for irrigation
purposes before it reaches the Mediterranean Sea. In Asia, which contains
two-thirds of the world's irrigated land, 85 percent of available water is
used for irrigation. And in California, 80 percent of the water withdrawn
for state water projects is used for agriculture. The remaining 20 percent
is used for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial use,
according to a report released by the environmental research and advocacy
group Pacific Institute.

The massive amount of water consumed by the farming industry worldwide has
been a source of controversy. The American Association for the Advancement
of Science, in a 2001 publication AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment
stated:

   "Most irrigation schemes around the world are extremely inefficient.
Typically, less than half the water reaches crop roots. Much of it is
misdirected or evaporates. Meanwhile, over-irrigation combined with
inadequate drainage is causing an accumulation of salt that is reducing
yields in many of the areas under irrigation. Sometimes there are major
ecological impacts. Irrigation projects developed by the former Soviet Union
in Central Asia to grow cotton have dramatically emptied the Aral Sea,
destroying fisheries, depopulating large areas and causing epidemics of
disease."*

Unlike large-scale industrialized farming, which contaminate local soil,
rivers and drinking water sources, organic farming rarely leads to such
devastation.

A study released by Cornell University Professor David Pimentel in 2005
reported that organic farming produces the same corn and soybean yields as
conventional farming and uses 30 percent less energy and less water.
Moreover, because organic farming systems do not use pesticides, they also
yield healthier produce and do not contribute to groundwater pollution.

In addition to its conservation of water, organic farming has also been
praised for the economic opportunities it creates for farmers in developing
countries. Those farmers have not only found an international market for
their organic products, but in draught-ridden India, organic rice farmers
have found that using less water is not only a necessity, but is also
financially practical. Indian rice farmers cited in a 2007 World Wildlife
Foundation study claimed that the system of rice intensification (SRI)
helped them yield more crop with less water.

Organic farming practices produce positive results for farmers and
consumers. One more item to think about when you're preparing your
Thanksgiving feast.

 

 

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