The Dangers and Necessities of Industrial Agriculture - Research Paper Example

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The future of food security is one of the most troubling circumstances facing the world today. The first part of The Omnivore Dilemma, which deals with industrial agriculture, outlines the production and development of agriculture in an industrialized setting (Pollan 13). …
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The Dangers and Necessities of Industrial Agriculture
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Download file to see previous pages Agriculture had, for thousands of years, been only a subsistence affair: people were only able to produce enough food to feed their own family or clan, with possibly a little extra for very short distance trade (Brothwell 368). Eventually basic agricultural techniques began to evolve and produce more food, leading to slight surpluses, which eventually grew and grew allowing the first civilizations with specialists such as soldiers, kings and bureaucrats to serve them (Diamond 34).
Over time agricultural techniques have slowly advanced, leading to world populations that have, more or less, slowly advanced with them, leading to increasing population densities and further increasing food production (Diamond 97). This process all changed drastically with the most important process in human history, the industrial revolution. The introduction of steam engines, trains that could rapidly transport goods over great distances, and the ability to use powered machinery to plant, gather and process agriculture produce meant an explosion of population unlike what had ever been seen previously (Buckley 17). It took all of human history to the year 1800 for world population to reach one billion. It then trebled to three billion by the year 1950, and had doubled again to six billion by 1999, before adding another billion by 2011 (23). Obviously these population increases, a result of industrial agriculture, would have far-reaching effects on all parts of human society. Most of all, however, food production leading to higher populations leads to more intensive food production, in unsustainable cycle that needs to, somehow, be altered. The Problems There are myriad problems caused by industrial agricultural practices and the high populations it help support. The first series has to do with food security. Food security is essentially how secure one’s food source is – how likely it is to be disrupted and how dangerous any disruption would be. The combination of extremely high world population and industrial agriculture weaken food security in several important ways. The first is simply a lack of food stores. For the vast majority of human history agricultural peoples have built up large food stores, sometimes years worth, in order to be able to deal with any disruption of food security (Brothwell 370). This meant that if there were a massive war in which fields were burnt, or a year or two of drought, flooding or other disruptions of food production, a population would have a store to lean on, minimizing if not completely preventing starvation. In this situation, only extremely prolonged conflicts or inclement weather to substantially shake the ability of a people to feed themselves, meaning that food security was relatively high. Now, however, the world has essentially zero food stores from season to season (Baarchers 188). Everything is eaten or consumed in some other way as soon as possibly can be, and there simply is not enough agricultural production to make a food stores big enough to feed the billions of people in the world for a matter of months, much less years. This means that any disruption, such as the widespread droughts that have been hitting the western end of Africa this past two years, leads to immediate starvation and death rather than giving a grace period of several years based on food stores (Lichtfouse 87). Industrial food production, along with the population explosion it has caused, weaken food security by nearly completely eliminating substantial food reserves of any kind on a world wide scale. The reduction and elimination of world-wide food stores is not the only way that practices of industrial farming have hampered food security. Another major way is food transportation ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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