Perhaps the most eminent critic of organic farming is Norman Borlaug,
the father of the “green revolution”, winner of the Nobel peace prize
and an outspoken advocate of the use of synthetic fertilisers to
increase crop yields. He claims the idea that organic farming is better
for the environment is “ridiculous” because organic farming produces
lower yields and therefore requires more land under cultivation to
produce the same amount of food. Thanks to synthetic fertilisers, Mr
Borlaug points out, global cereal production tripled between 1950 and
2000, but the amount of land used increased by only 10%. Using
traditional techniques such as crop rotation, compost and manure to
supply the soil with nitrogen and other minerals would have required a
tripling of the area under cultivation. The more intensively you farm,
Mr Borlaug contends, the more room you have left for rainforest.
Read more here.
Addendum: Speaking of The Economist, here are their book recommendations for the year.