In this project we examined how the yields of organic agriculture compare to conventional agriculture through a global meta-analysis of the literature. This study was published in Nature in 2012 (see full list of publications here).
Organic agriculture and regulations
What distinguishes organic agriculture from concepts like agroecology, low-input agriculture or conservation agriculture is that organic agriculture is the only management system that is regulated in laws in most countries. In order to understand what organic agriculture means today we carried out a content analysis of different organic regulations from across the world. From this analysis we concluded that regulations define organic mostly in terms of 'natural' vs. 'synthetic' inputs. Environmental best practices are, instead, not well represented in organic regulations. This project was carried out in collaboration with my supervisor Navin Ramankutty (UBC) and Tabea Mayerhofer (TU München). This study was published in Food Policy in 2017 (see full list of publications here).
For organic agriculture to be a viable alternative to conventional farming it needs to be able to provide livelihoods to farmers. So what are the benefits and problem of organic management for farmers? I wrote a policy brief based on a literature review on the livelihood outcomes of organic management for the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID, McGill, see full list of publications here). I also conducted a case study on organic farmer livelihoods in the South Indian state of Kerala in 2013, conducting interviews with organic and conventional farmers as well as key informants involved in organic agriculture. The Kerala case study was carried out in collaboration with my supervisor Navin Ramankutty (UBC), as well as Stephanie Austin, Sarah Turner and Madhav Badami (McGill University).