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Shelby Whitfield
Instructor: Malcolm Campbell
UWRT 1103
April 10, 2016

Your Health Matters: Organic Food Production vs. Conventional Food Production

The organic food industry is thriving in our present-day world and has created
double-digit growth with a $39.1 billion industry in the year of 2015. Many ask what is
the difference between conventional food products and organic food products? This
question is tested frequently and scientists everywhere are creating studies that will
answer this long heated debate and give the public what they’ve been demanding. There
are many factors that revolve around the topic “organic”; there are processes, objects, and
people that make organic food production happen. Throughout this essay, both sides will
be displayed along with information on topics such as GMO’s, organic farming, and
nutritious facts.
Organic farming refers to agricultural production systems that farm without the 
use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically modified seed (GM). Not only 
does the production of organic products help our bodies, but our environment as well. 
Within organic farming, production practices are used to enhance our ecosystem such as 
biological pest control, no­till or minimum tillage, habitat maintenance for beneficial 
insects and vertebrates, and water management practices. These ecologically protective 
practices improve the quality of water, the biodiversity, as well as the health of the soil. 



Organic farming can be known as the agricultural system that works in harmony with 
nature due to its environmental benefits and healthy ways. The process of organic 
farming is mostly straightforward; it begins with cultivating the right soil at the right 
time, making sure everything is in place for the process to begin. Next comes the careful 
use of water resources and good animal husbandry. Animal husbandry is the science of 
breeding and caring for farm animals by humans, which involves the production of meat, 
milk and eggs. After the husbandry of animals, natural pesticides come into play. The 
word “pesticide” is a scary one; the representation of the word has decreased over time 
and has created a mess within conventional farming. However, the pesticides in organic 
farming must come from natural resources instead of being synthetically manufactured ­ 
meaning no use of chemicals. Also, these “natural pesticides must be applied using 
equipment that has not been used to apply synthetic materials on crops for the past three 
years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for 
that period either” (Louis Hom). After the crops have been treated with natural 
pesticides, recycled organic wastes, such as crop residues, waste, farm industrial waste, 
and multiple sewage wastes are used. These recycled organic wastes are valuable sources 
of plant nutrients and are organic fertilizers for the crops.  Due to human pollution in 
tropical and subtropical soil, there is an overall deficiency of organic carbon and plant 
nutrients as a result of a hurried loss of this component by bio­degradation. Green manure
is created by uprooted crop parts that serve as a mulch; this is commonly associated with 
organic farming and plays a very important role in sustainable annual cropping systems. 
Green manures usually execute multiple functions that help with soil improvement and 



protection, allowing the soil to regain fertility after its harvest.  Another factor that 
contributes to soil fertility is crop rotation, which is an approach to which crop to place 
where in the farm annually. This process begins so that there is an increase in the genetic 
diversity of the farm. After the genetic diversity has begun the use of resistant crops are 
used to sustain the crops life span. The fertilizers are either created locally by green 
manuring and leguminous crop rotation or on­farm via worm farming and composting. 
Biodynamic farmers use a low cost microbial solution that is sprayed on their crops that 
in turn significantly lowers the expensiveness of insecticides, fungicides, and other 
pesticides. This contribution creates lower input costs for the farmers and helps them save
money. As the organic farming production seems enticing and safe, recent studies and 
article writers have said different. There has been a hot debate over whether or not these 
products make a difference in one’s health and if it’s worth it to buy such an expensive 
item just because it’s labeled organic. 
Conventional farming refers to industrial agricultural systems that use synthetic
fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other continual outputs such as genetically modified
organisms (GMO’s). Most conventional farming methods develop of a wide range of
“off-farm inputs” that creates a successful, efficient farm with flourishing crops. If the
soil does not have a certain amount of minerals, then farmers will purchase minerals that
are bagged in the form of synthetic fertilizers from a farm supply store. If there is not
enough water accessible to the farm, farmers install irrigation pumps and natural gas is
used to run the pumps and irrigate the fields with groundwater, creating soiled water for
the crops. Insects may infest crops and become a threat to them, so if this were to happen,
the farmers would buy pesticides and spray these on the crops to prevent further insect



infestation on the crops. These methods in turn can pose a risk to health by contaminating
the soil, the water, and the air with levels of synthetic chemicals that cannot be obtained
by the earth; diminishing the ecosystem and the biodiversity held within our earth.
Another method that is used in conventional farming is mono cropping; mono cropping,
also known as minimum crop rotation, is the practice of growing one single crop year
after year on the same land. This method causes a loss of nutrients and minerals within
the crops. When this happens, minerals are added back into the soil in the form of
hydrocarbon-based fertilizers and mined minerals such as phosphate, so that the crops
will grow back on the depleted soil. Conventional farming is highly dependent on earthbased, non-renewable resources, which causes a gradual reduction in our natural
resources. One can observe the environmental benefits are not strong in this method of
farming. Monocultures and resulting poor health will cause infestations of insects,
diseases, and weeds, therefore lowering the biodiversity, which, in this case, requires
synthetic pesticides and herbicides to be used, further destroying the soil biology. The
pros that come out of conventional farming are that the costs of farming and food
production are low, which is extremely attractive to low-income families and the public
in general, as well as the fact that there are more job opportunities available, which is
important nowadays. All of these factors are really what the public see when they look at
conventional farming, there are very few that really consider the health risks. In our
present day economy, the only thing that matters is money and job opportunities, which
makes conventional produce and food production more appealing.
GMO’s, or genetically modified organisms, strike a big discussion. So, what’s all
the talk about? “GMO’s are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially



manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering”(NON GMO Project). This
moderately new science creates plant, animal, and viral genes that aren’t naturally made
or occur in traditional crossbreeding methods. The long-term impacts of GMOs are
unknown and once they are released into the environment, the organisms cannot be
withdrawn. “Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide
tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since
GMOs were introduced” (NON GMO Project). Unfortunately, GMO crops are the reason
the environment has seen the introduction of “super weeds” and “super bugs” which
require only a harsher, more toxic chemical to kill them off. GMO’s are banned in most
developed regions like Japan, Australia, and every country in the European Union. On the
other hand, the U.S. government has approved GMOs based on recent studies that the
same corporations that created them and profit off of them have released. Americans are
starting to see the harsh risks of GMOs and are beginning to take steps forward in
banning these harmful organisms GMOs are becoming extremely common and are seen
in as much as 80% of conventionally processed foods. GMOs will forever contaminate
our planet due to there cross pollination and traveling of seeds. Mentioned earlier, GMOs
may never be withdrawn, once they’re out in the environment, there is no way of
cleaning them up.
There are so many factors and aspects that correlate when the discussion of
organic food production and conventional food production arise. People only see the
highlight reel of what goes on rather than the behind-the-scenes perspective. The public
needs to be exposed to these harsh facts and see what really goes on within each food



production process. There is plenty of information and studies that show the results of
each process; once read, one might change the way they live based on what they read.

Works Cited
"Advantages and Disadvantages Organic Farming: Its Pros and Cons." Advantages and
Disadvantages Organic Farming: Its Pros and Cons. Fantastic Farms. Web. 8
Apr. 2016.
"GMO Facts." The NonGMO Project RSS. The NonGMO Project RSS. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.
Hom, Louis. "Pestcides in Organic Farming." Pestcides in Organic Farming. Web. 9 Apr.
"Market Analysis." Market Analysis. Organic Trade Association. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.
"Nutrition and Healthy Eating." Organic Foods: Are They Safer? More Nutritious? Mayo
Clinic, 9 June 2014. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.
"Organic FAQs." Organic Farming Research Foundation. Organic Farming Research
Foundation, 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
Smith, Jeffrey. "10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs." Institute For Responsible Technology.
Institute For Responsible Technology, 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
"Welcome to" My Agriculture Information Bank. My Agriculture Information
Bank. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
"What Are the Environmental Benefits of Organic Farming over Conventional Farming
Methods?" World's Healthiest Foods. World's Healthiest Foods. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.
"6 Pros and Cons of Conventional Farming - HRFnd." HRFnd. Health Research Funding,
03 Aug. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.