Organic farming and genetically modified food

Organic farming

Development of organic farming

Organic farming involves arable farmers producing crops without artificial chemicals. It relies on more natural farming techniques such as crop rotation and spreading manure as a fertiliser.

Organic milk and beef is produced from livestock without using antibiotics. Many farmers are turning to organic farming as consumers opt to buy chemical free food.

Advantages and disadvantages of organic farming

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Chemical-free food grown to meet consumer demandsMore labour intensive – it takes the farmer more time and effort to grow crops
Organic food is more nutritional as it contains more vitamins and mineralsFarmer needs to be more skilful, eg to cultivate poorer soils
Food tastes better and keeps for longer Productivity is lower on organic farms and more work is required as fertilisers and pesticides are not used

Genetically modified food

This involves farmers using seeds which have been altered by scientific techniques. In the past, plants were improved by breeding them with better plants. This allowed farmers to grow strong plants which produced large amounts of crops to sell.

This natural process takes years to produce improved crop varieties, whereas GM plants are altered by scientists and the process is much faster. Some people think there are ethical, environmental and health concerns around the use of GM crops and therefore they should not be used by farmers.

However, others support the use of GM plants because they can be bred to fight off pests and weeds, safeguarding crops from being wasted. Many think this is particularly important because of the rising world population and the corresponding increased demand for food.

The case for genetically modified plants