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Organic agriculture yields are high, sustainable, says trade association

(May 2, 2002 CropChoice news) -- The following is a press release from the Organic Trade Association.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA), the business association which successfully brought about the U.S. organic standards being implemented this October, today denounced new efforts to dismiss organic agriculture's production capabilities and set the record straight: organic agriculture yields are not only on par with conventional agricultural methods, but they are sustainable and well suited to feeding a growing world population.

"These attacks on organic agriculture are efforts to promote the chemical and pharmaceutical industries which, unlike organic agriculture, depend upon the continued use of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in the production of the world's food supply, all practices which put the environment and future generations at risk," explained Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of OTA.

DiMatteo noted a study published by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (http://www.ofrf.org), which found that organic production yielded 95% of crops grown under conventional high-input conditions for a total of 154 growing seasons for different crops in different parts of the U.S. and on both rain-fed and irrigated land. Study highlights included: organic corn yields were 94% of conventional corn yields, organic soybean yields were 97% of conventional soybean yields, and were no differences between organic and conventional tomato yields.*

The benefits of organic agriculture also include improved soil, which means the soil can hold water better and have higher yields during drought conditions, a key consideration in many parts of the world, noted DiMatteo. Benefits of organic agriculture also reduced nitrogen leeching, so water pollution is reduced. In conventional agriculture, massive fertilizer pollution causes dead zones, making thousands of miles of the world's waterways unable to support aquatic life.

"Because organic agriculture challenges the status quo, should anticipate these types of attacks on organic agriculture especially as we get closer to the implementation of the standards this October or as Congress considers key legislation, such as the Farm Bill," said DiMatteo. "The important fact to remember is that a record-breaking number of Americans commented on proposed organic standards and demanded that the U.S. government implement the most stringent agriculture standards in the world."

Representing the organic industry in North America, the Organic Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association. Its mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade. OTA's approximately 1,200 members include growers, shippers, retailers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, brokers, consultants and others. For further information, visit the OTA website at http://www.ota.com or its consumer website at http://www.theorganicreport.com

*Organic Farming Research Foundation Information Bulletin Summer 2001 Number 10

CONTACT: Holly Givens of OTA, +1-413-774-7511/ /Web site: http://www.ota.com