A U.K. Defra report, discount Environmental Impacts of Food Production and Consumption (pdf warning), compared organic versus non-organic food “life cycles” and concludes that in some circumstances organic agriculture can be more detrimental to the environment than conventional agriculture.
Buying organic and local foods is not necessarily better for the environment, according to a new life-cycle assessment examining the environmental impacts of food from cultivation to consumption.
The report (pdf warning) by researchers at the Manchester Business School was conducted for the U.K. environment agency Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Among its conclusions, the team finds that organic farming can use more land and release more nutrients to local water sources than conventional agriculture, and can have a larger carbon footprint. But the researchers also say that no clear-cut answer is readily available for this complex comparison.
From ES&T Online News: Environmental costs of organic food.