Organic Consumers Association

Organic Farming Can Help Reverse Global Warming

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Oct 10, 2003

Organic Agriculture Yields New Weapon Against Global Warming;
Groundbreaking Study Proves Organic Farming Counters Greenhouse Gases

KUTZTOWN, Pa., Oct. 10 (AScribe Newswire) -- After 23 years of field
studies on organic farming practices, researchers at The Rodale Institute
have announced exciting new findings with profound implications in the
battle against global warming.

The Rodale Institute's groundbreaking Farming Systems Trial, the
world's longest running study of organic farming, has documented that
organic soils actually scrub the atmosphere of global warming gases by capturing
atmospheric carbon dioxide and converting it into soil material. This is the
first study to document that organic farming techniques create robust carbon

"Organic farming is a powerful new tool in the global warming
arsenal," said Anthony Rodale, chairman of the The Rodale Institute. "It puts
agriculture into a lead role in regenerating the environment."

Through a process called carbon sequestration, plants and soils act
as "sinks" for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon "sequestered" in vegetation
and soil is not readily released as carbon dioxide, providing a significant
boost in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. While carbon helps
stimulate plant growth, scientists estimate carbon dioxide may be responsible for more
than 80 percent of global warming.

Although it's not a "silver bullet," carbon sequestration can become
a powerful component of a multi-pronged approach to managing the issue of
global warming. Since 1981, The Rodale Institute has monitored soil carbon
and nitrogen levels in scientifically controlled test fields using organic as
well as a wide range of other farming methods. In the organic systems, soil
carbon increased 15 to 28 percent.

These results are the extension of findings first published in the
journal Nature in 1999 and have undergone additional peer review.

While the effects of carbon sequestration have been known for some
time, The Rodale Institute's research provides the most definitive, long-term
evidence about organic agriculture's asset as a tool against global warming.

"This is very good news," said Paul Hepperly, The Rodale Institute's
research manager. "The extent of carbon sequestration found and the
impressive ability of organic systems to capture carbon are important results
that should be used by policy makers when planning future agriculture

The Rodale Institute's studies show an average increase in soil carbon
of about 1,000 pounds per acre-foot of soil, or about 3,500 pounds of carbon
dioxide per acre-foot per year sequestered. If multiplied over the 160
million acres of corn and soybean produced nationally, 580 billion pounds of
carbon dioxide could potentially be sequestered using existing low input
organic farming methods.

"Because the Farming Systems Trial found that organic farming practices
emit fewer greenhouse gases, the carbon sequestration findings are exciting
on their own," said Anthony Rodale. "Additionally, The Rodale Institute's
multi-year study also produces compelling evidence about the economic
viability of organic agriculture. The field trial findings can be beneficial
to all farmers by helping to increase crop yields while decreasing energy,
fuel and irrigation costs."

Pennsylvania's Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection
have agreed to support further study, education and outreach efforts with
The Rodale Institute to better understand the positive effects that organic
agriculture can have in reducing the impacts of excess atmospheric carbon on
global warming.

"Rodale's data and findings will be most helpful in the development of
future greenhouse gas mitigation strategies that will be beneficial to
Pennsylvania's citizens, its farmers and its business owners," said Secretary
Kathleen McGinty of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection.
"I commend The Rodale Institute for their staying power in conducting this
twenty plus-year study that has measured and documented the use of living
soil as a sink for carbon dioxide."

"Pennsylvania's partnership with The Rodale Institute presents a
one-of-a-kind opportunity," said Dennis Wolff, Secretary of Pennsylvania's
Department of Agriculture.

"Pennsylvania is fortunate to be at the center of this exciting
research," Wolff said. "We have thought for years that carbon sequestration
and the development of a market for carbon credits offer new income
opportunities for farmers even as they help the environment. Today's
research results demonstrate that potential beyond the shadow of a doubt. I am
anxious to share this potential with the Commonwealth's farmers."

The Rodale Institute is a not-for-profit educational and research
organization committed to sharing information globally about successful
agricultural solutions to health and environmental problems. The Rodale
Institute has worked for sixty years to establish and share knowledge about
how to achieve a regenerative food system that renews environmental and
human health, bringing to life the philosophy of J. I. Rodale, the founder, that
"Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People." For more information about
The Rodale Institute, and related programs, please visit,,

Media Contact:
Ann Meyers, 717-951-7221;
Michael Straus, 415-777-1170;
For additional background materials, please contact
Andy Lax at Straus Communications, 415-777-1170,


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