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Abstract

This paper critically examines linkages between alternative farming practices and environmental quality. Environmental impacts of high-yield farming are contrasted to those of low-yield farming. Traditional low-yield farming systems, while being promoted by environmental groups, have resulted in massive famine, higher cancer rates, soil erosion, and losses in wildlife habitat. Organic farming and other low-yield systems are land intensive and invade marginal farmland, thereby destroying wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Low-yield farming has not and cannot produce enough food to meet the food needs of the world’s population. By contrast, high-yield farming minimizes land use for food production and increase the availability of land for wildlife habitat and biodiversity. High-yield farming has contributed to economic development and lower birth rates, thereby reducing population growth. The environment risks from high-yield farming are considered low and have been declining. The benefits of high-yield farming can be maximized with agricultural research and free trade in farm products.

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