A report released by the Organic Center highlights the importance of organic and sustainable farming practices, not just for food production but for sustaining populations such as pollinator bees.
One of the most vulnerable populations on the planet.
Bees are vital when it comes to pollination, which is vital to the production of food. Without healthy bee populations, many foods that we enjoy would no longer exist, including apples, carrots, berries, and onions.
In recent years, bee populations have been declining at an alarming rate due to colony collapse disorder, a condition that can kill off entire hives(1).
This threat to bee populations is dangerous to global food security.
Is Industrial Farming To Blame?
While no cause for colony collapse disorder has been scientifically proven, many farmers have been quick to pinpoint contemporary farming practices as a culprit.
Certainly mass farming operations can have devastating environmental impacts.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists,
“The currently dominant system of industrial agriculture – which voters and taxpayers have unknowingly promoted and subsidized through ill-considered government food and farm policy choices – impacts the environment in many ways. It uses huge amounts of water, energy, and chemicals, often with little regard to long-term adverse effects.”(2)
The Role Of Organic Farming
According to the report, “The Role Of Organic Farming In Supporting Pollinator Health”, organic farming methods not only reduce the risk of colony collapse disorder, but actively support the growth of bee populations.
The report goes on to outline pollinator-friendly techniques that organic farmers can incorporate into their farming systems(3).
“Our paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by honey bees and other pollinators, and we look at organic as a model for supporting pollinator populations,” said director of science programs for The Organic Center Dr. Jessica Shade.
“We hope this report acts as a tool to educate policymakers, growers, and consumers. Bee-friendly practices being used by organic farmers can be adopted by all producers to foster healthy pollinators.”(4)
Limits Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
The report stresses that organic practices can protect and support the health of pollinators on two fronts: first, they limit the exposure of pollinators to toxic chemicals. Insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides are all used in industrial agriculture and can all place stress on bee populations.
Supports Environment and Biodiversity
Secondly, organic farming protects the bee’s native habitat and supports biodiversity of pollinators. A lack of habitat, as well as limited nutritional food sources, have been key factors in pollinator decline over the years. Organic farms tend to have more biodiversity than industrial farming operations, with more plants to support and feed the bees.
“Organic farming supports all of agriculture by maintaining and nourishing healthier pollinator communities, through practices such as crop rotations, hedgerow planting, and the use of integrated pest management techniques. Our goal is to gain recognition for these important organic practices,” says Shade.
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