As far as organic being healthier goes, consider this. 70 years ago, all farming in the UK was organic, and yet malnutrition and food poisoning was rife and people only lived into their 60's on average. Now, modern agriculture (including the careful use of well-tested chemicals) makes food cheap and safe and we live well into our eighties. The era before industrial food production is promoted as some kind of garden of eden by celebrities and the media. In reality it was pretty shit - people died from gum disease, livestock and crops were often decimated by disease, harvests would fail for no apparent reason, and millions of people simply fucking starved. All in an era of totally organinc farming.
That's a fallacious comparison given that social conditions 70 years ago and social conditions today are pretty different. Ascribing increases in public health and quality of life purely to a shift in agricultural production methods is either deliberately conflating correlation and causation or poorly describing your case.
Organics fail the sustainability test too. Organic farming needs far more land to produce a given amount of food than non-organic agriculture. A hectare of conventionally farmed land produces 2.5 times more potatoes than an organic one. In the UK industrialised farming has led to a decrease in the amount of land being cultivated - farmers are being paid to NOT produce food and instead 'steward the land'.
We're not, by any means, self-sufficient in food and unless there is a sudden drop in production we probably will not be for a very long time. Whilst yields are lower from organic produce the farming methods that go hand-in-hand with organic farming are generally less intensive, resulting in soil nutrients being kept stable. The use of natural pesticides or natural methods of pest control (such as carefully-managed polyculture) is also key in combating climate change as it avoids the use of oil-based pesticides etcetera, which do have a large impact on the environment. By reducing or eliminating use of artificial pesticides, you also largely remove the risk of pesticide runoff into rivers, as well as the negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystems that has been observed with heavy pesticide use.
Looking at organics as a market we also see unsustainabilty - currently less than 1% of food sold in the Uk is organic, the last available figures from 2006 show the market for organic food was around £1.937bn, out of a total food market of £104bn. Since that 60 years ago all our food was produced organically, that actually represents a drop of almost 99%. Since 2003 the amount of land being farmed organically has actually shrank, more farmers are going back to conventional farming.
I don't understand the point you are trying to make here.
As far as 'helping the small farmers' goes, most of the organic food bought in the uk today comes from large food producers - it has to, the small farms are too small and inefficient to meet demand. And it's this which is my main bug bear with organics - it's sheer inefficiency. By it's nature the organic farming industry is too inefficient to meet demand, that's why you pay more. It's estimated that at best an entirely organic global food industry could feed 4 billion people - there are over 6.5 billion customers. Which 2.5 billion people is the Soil Association gonna tell to starve to death?
The 4bn figure comes from one of the fathers of the "Green Revolution", the shift in agricultural methods post-WW2 leading to increased pesticide use. He obviously has a vested interest in promoting non-organic methods of farming. The yield question is also worth revisiting as the research here is mixed. Whilst one would expect yields to be lower, some studies have shown that organic methods may, in the long term, increase yields compared to no-tillage conventional farming
, especially if a suitable crop rotation is employed. This is a point also claimed by such as Masanobu Fukuoka
, whose personal belief was that, by using certain organic and holistic (that word again) farming methods, one could increase yield over conventional methods. Whilst this obviously makes for a less efficient farming system, the fact of the matter is that our present, highly efficient farming system has many serious problems, largely dealt with as externalities at the present time (so dismissed as unimportant by the relevant interests). The general fact that organics produce lower yields is also mitigated over the long-term by repeated studies suggesting that organic farms are able to cope with extreme weather conditions including drought better than conventional farming.
The fact of the matter is that, even if we had large organic monocultures, it wouldn't be enough. That far I will agree with you that a simple replacement from convential to organic methods in pesticide use, whilst leaving everything else the same, will not work. A genuinely workable food system (and we have enough food and enough arable land to feed the world right now) would necessarily include an emphasis on social justice, on small self-sustaining communities and on farming methods emphasising crop rotation and polyculture.