A Better Question

Which agriculture will feed the world? Conventional or Organic? This debate is becoming increasingly polarized, with supporters on each side rallying around the defenders of their own particular orthodoxy. This is a shame, because reducing complex problems down to a struggle between two etched-in-stone, ideological belief systems rarely results in useful progress. I offer the federal government as Exhibit A.

What fuels the debate is that neither side knows the answer. Feeding a global population of 7 billion, let alone 10 billion, has never been done. But we can be sure of one thing: it will not be done in either a strictly conventional or wholly organic fashion. So if we want a solution, rather than a debate, shouldn’t the real question be: “What elements of each system can be used effectively at various parts of the world to best meet the needs of a hungry world?” For a problem of this complexity, we need more possible solutions, not fewer.

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