Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Gretchen Kaufman, DVM
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Fall 2008
Gretchen Kaufman, DVM
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

1. General Agriculture References and Links

American Farmland Trust

Eco-certifications - what are definitions of USDA organic, certified naturally grown, etc.?

Pew Report on Industrial Farm Animal Production

National Agricultural Library

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Life Cycle Assessment: Principles and Practice

UCS on Food

Nature issue on the future of farming

Support Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry and Combat Land Degradation - Technical Reference Document

Effect of cultivation methods on nutrient quality. Kristensen M, Østergaard LF, Halekoh U, et al. Effect of plant cultivation methods on content of major and trace elements in foodstuffs and retention in rats. J Sci Food Agric. 2008;88(12):2161-2172.

UNH Seminars on Farming for the Future

Cederberg C, Mattsson B. Life cycle assessment of milk production-- a comparison of conventional and organic farming. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2000; 8:49-60.
Summary: This study performed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on organic and conventional milk production for farms in Sweden. This evaluation paid particular attention to "substance flows in concentrate feed production" and the flow of nutrients on the farms. The LCA found that the more low-input agricultural systems (organic farms) had greater environmental benefits. The main benefits pointed out in this article are reduced pesticide and nutrient (phosphorus) use. On the other hand methods to reduce environmental impacts such as acidification, global warming, and eutrophication need to be implemented for both farming systems. The article points out that it is important to assess environmental performance and land-use both quantitatively and qualitatively since there are great differences in resource allocation and "material and energy flows" between conventional versus organic systems.

Relevance: This article is very useful because it provides a clear example of a Life Cycle Assessment which is directly related to our project. The LCA method is a great way to show how various inputs are processed and turned into outputs in a system. Applying the LCA approach to environmental health would be beneficial because it allows for evaluation of an entire complex system. An LCA can also provide an illustration of how inputs, processes, and outputs are all interconnected and how they in turn can influence/impact indirect environmental factors. (BB)