Published online: Apr 15, 2009
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"With current yields for organic agriculture and the current demand for labor in organic agriculture it's totally impractical as a solution for feeding the world," institute director Leonard Gianessi says.

The institute is a unit of the Washington-based pesticide advocacy group CropLife Foundation.

Gianessi says recent studies indicate crop yields are not comparable to those from current farming methods even though organic activists are saying the yields are the same. Gianessi says EU countries are finding out that's not the case.

"In the EU in the last several years most organic farmers have lost most of their potato crops to late blight, a fungus that can't be controlled without the use of fungicide," he says. "So, there are practical problems that simply cannot be solved with current organic method."

Gianessi says because organic growers cannot use herbicides, weed control is the number one problem.

"We estimate on the four billion acres (1,61 billion ha) of cropland worldwide we'd need a billion people pulling weeds by hand and that's simply impractical."

Gianessi says there is a shift beginning in Washington that could affect policy that is not backed up by reality.

"A lot of precious financial resources for research are being directed toward the needs of organic growers which represent just a half a percent of the acreage of cropland in this country," he says.

Gianessi says there is definitely a place for organic farming, but not on a worldwide scale.