Canada: Trudeau declares war on fertilizers and follows in the footsteps of devastated Sri Lanka

The ecological and economic effects of a shift to organic agriculture can be disastrous, as the Asian country is well aware.

In Canada, provincial government leaders and organizations representing farmers have expressed their opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plans to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30%, according to The Toronto Sun. Trudeau is promoting the measure as part of the fight against climate change.

A meeting was held last Friday, July 22 with the sectors involved to try to reach an agreement, however the farmers were not satisfied with the meeting because the plans to reduce the emission of fertilizers are going ahead.

The federal government is sticking to its last exit and trying to impose a requirement to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers saying it is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

"The provinces were disappointed by the lack of flexibility and consultation with respect to the federal target," Ontario Member of Parliament Lisa Thompson noted after the meeting.

Several provincial governments and farmer organizations have requested that fertilizer emission reductions be measured by the amount of food produced versus the amount of fertilizer used. But Trudeau is demanding an absolute reduction in emissions, which could lead to less food, according to opponents of this measure.

Research on organic farming

According to environmental policy expert Bjorn Lomborg, "Research shows conclusively that organic farming produces less food per hectare than conventional farming. In addition, organic farming forces farmers to rotate land out of production to pasture, fallow or cover crops, which reduces its efficiency. In total, organic approaches produce between a quarter and half as much food as conventional, science-based agriculture."

The ecological and economic effects of a shift to organic agriculture can be disastrous. According to Professor Lomborg, "organic farmers would need much more land to feed the same number of people as today, possibly almost twice the area. Given that agriculture uses 40% of ice-free land, switching to organic would mean destroying large swaths of nature for less efficient production."

The case of Sri Lanka

There are examples of countries that have already implemented green policies before Canada, albeit without any success. A notable and recent example is Sri Lanka. One of the ingredients that contributed to the collapse of this nation was the decision to impose organic agriculture. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa justified that decision with these words: "The government must guarantee the right of the people to a non-toxic diet, which produces a healthy and productive citizen". Despite that goal, the diet did not reach households. His policy of eradicating fertilizers has been a success: their use has largely disappeared. But the consequences have not been long in coming: four out of five citizens are going hungry.

Sri Lanka, which had been self-sufficient in rice production, has finally had to import $450 million worth of rice. The drop in production has also decimated agricultural exports, which has led to an increase in foreign debt.