Organic Methods are Not an Option for Feeding China

China has made remarkable progress in increasing food production to feed its growing population. China can feed itself thanks to the widespread adoption of chemical pesticides and industrial fertilizers. Organic yields are considerably lower without these inputs, which means that widespread adoption of organic practices is not an option for feeding China’s 1.3 billion people.

“Today, China provides enough food for 21% of the world’s population from 9% of the world’s cultivated land. From 1949 to 2000, China’s population increased from 450 million to over 1200 million. During the same period, China’s food crop production increased from 130 Mt to 550 Mt. … This remarkable increase has led China to be able to feed its people.”

“Although organic farming is an old system brought out as a new concept, in our view it is not a practical national farming system for many developing countries – like China. … In organic farming, crop yields and production efficiency are lower and the unit cost of production higher. To produce the same total quantity of any crop, a larger area of land is needed. This additional area is not available in China, so that organic farming on a large scale is not an option to be advocated.”

Authors: Fang Chen & Kaiyuan Wan
Affiliation: Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China
Title: The impact of organic agriculture on food quantity, food quality and the environment: a China perspective (Letter to the Editor).
Publication: Soil Use and Management (2005) 21:73-74. Available:

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