Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Emperor's Organic Clothes

Bettina Arndt questions the wisdom of the "organic is better" meme.

They sold only one brand of bubbly water, proudly labelled "organic mineral water". Organic water? What on earth does that mean? Mineral water contains minerals, which are inorganic compounds, not the compounds of carbon required for an "organic" product. Water can't be organic. It's a nonsense designed to seduce consumers into believing they are buying something special. And the suckers line up for more.

Ms Arndt goes on to point out that the "organic" movement is an emperor without clothes, based as it is on its belief that synthetic chemicals are somehow evil while (identical) natural chemicals are not. That's without taking into account the increased possibility (and documented occurrences) of bacterial contamination, the higher cost, and its poorer yields in a world with an exploding population.

The organic fad is an indulgence of the rich. Even if most claims for organic farming could be substantiated, its main disadvantage is its inefficiency. Organic food costs more because average yields are 20-50 per cent lower than those from conventional farms. While the affluent trendies indulge their foolish food fad, we still need to treble food production in the next 50 years to feed three billion extra people.

While the rest of the world turns to more efficient methods of farming, and evidence based medicine, True Believers in the west are desperate to return to the good old days of disease and famine.

Addendum: Ms Arndt appears to have been psychically channelling an article from the Guardian from three years ago, as well as creating studies by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control that don't exist. The whole story is at Mediawatch.

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