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The Atlantic - The war between organic and conventional farming misses the point

Published: 14 May 2012

The real dispute is over valid but competing priorities. On April 23, the science journal Nature published a paper titled "Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture," by Verena Seufert et al.

The real dispute is over valid but competing priorities. On April 23, the science journal Nature published a paper titled "Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture," by Verena Seufert et al.

The mainstream press waded into the paper's implications but had a hard time packaging them in a headline. CNN announced "Organic yields 25% lower than conventional farming," while the Los Angeles Times proclaimed "Organic Farming, carefully done, can be efficient."

Pundits have used the paper to support contrary arguments in the ongoing debates about organic agriculture. Such cherry-picking isn't a huge surprise, given the issue's divisiveness, said co-author Dr. Navin Ramankutty of McGill University. "We made everyone equally unhappy," he told me by phone.

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