What is the difference between organic and genetic farming?

What is Organic Farming?

Organic farming aims to provide the means of sustainable agriculture while applying environmentally friendly methods. The ultimate goal of organic farmers is to achieve maximum productivity while focusing on sustainable agriculture, re-establishing ecological balance, conserving flora and fauna, and contributing to the preservation of the soil by reducing the usage of chemicals and toxic substances in the farming process.

Another primary aim of organic farming is to grow healthier and more nutritious crops for consumers. It is essential to note that organic farming avoids the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically modified seeds.

Organic farming practices

Organic farmers put into practice several methods to achieve environmental and agricultural sustainability. Here are some of the most common practices among them:

Soil maintenance

Farmers preserve the health of the soil by using compost or manure instead of synthetic fertilizers. The usage of organic fertilizers improves soil quality as it enables it to retain better air, nutrients, and moisture which results in healthier, thriving plants and crops.

Crop rotation

Growing the same plants in the same soil year after year decreases the quality of the soil. By growing different plants every year, organic farmers ensure that the soil is more abundant in nutrients acquired by the various crops that are produced in it.

Cover crops

Cover crops are non-income generating crops planted in between growth cycles or in some cases together with the main crops. Cover crops enrich the soil because they improve the soil’s chemical and biological properties as well as reduce erosion.

Buffer zones

Buffer zones are designated areas of crops organic farmers plant between organically certified fields and non-organic land. In this way, they ensure that there is no contamination between organic and non-organic soil.

What is Genetic Farming?

Genetic farming uses seeds of genetically modified crops to ensure they are more resilient to herbicides, insect attacks, diseases, and drought. Genetically modified crops are also nutritionally enhanced so that they can provide needed nutrition that their non-modified variants/counterparts lack.

What are genetically modified crops?

Genetically modified crops are those of which the DNA has been genetically modified to introduce a new trait in it. Genetically modified crops are grown all over the world. Some of the most famous are wheat, corn, rice, soybean, canola, and cotton.

Genetic farming has been a controversial topic for quite some time now. The main concerns of the public regarding its practice have been related to consumer’s health and risk for the environment. However, advocates of genetic farming argue that there are several advantages to take into account when discussing the need for genetically modified crops:

Environmental stresses

Genetically modified crops are introduced with genetic traits that help them withstand severe weather conditions such as drought, heat, or frost.

Herbicide tolerance and pest stresses

Genetically modified crops are introduced with an additional gene that helps them withhold herbicide and pesticide manipulations. Such plants have a higher tolerance for universal herbicide and pesticide mixtures. This helps farmers because they can use widespread herbicide/pesticide to control different kinds of weeds and insects.

Enhanced nutritional value

Crops get genetically added nutrients which the plant lacks in the first place. For example, some vegetables have added vitamin E, vitamin A, or iron. There are plans of commercializing crops that have increased levels of protein, carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Another way of improving the crop’s nutritional value is the removal or gluten in some types of wheat.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic Farming and Genetic Farming

Both organic farming and genetic farming have their advantages and disadvantages.

Organic farming is often chosen because farmers want to maintain the soil and contribute to a more environmentally friendly way of farming. They also want to grow healthier crops with fewer nitrates. Numerous standards and regulations make organic farming more difficult than conventional farming. While all plants can be grown organically, some crops are far more challenging to grow in this way.

Genetic farming ensures the growth of more resilient crops which can withhold unfavorable weather conditions and allow the usage of more cost-effective herbicides and pesticides. Genetically modified plants are thus easier to care for and often ensure greater profit for farmers. However, genetic farming has been a very controversial topic, and the focus of consumers has been shifting to organic produce despite its higher price.

Every farmer should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages or both kinds of farming before deciding on either one of them. We hope this article has brought to you needed insights on both. 

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