Friday, April 16, 2010

Industrial Agriculture

Over centuries agriculture has grown from an individual way of life to a part of the service industry. As technology booms, big companies who own the present day farms have changed the way crops are grown, the way food is distibuted, and the cost of food.

The advantage of having small, locally owned farms that grow natural, biodiverse crops is variety. There is a vast availability of genetic variation which allows the consumers to have choices. Technology has opened up some very surprising opporunities, where biologists can manipulate the genes of crops to make their own specific line that can now be patented. Genetically manipulated monocultures were made and companies came up with ways of controling the pest situation. Part of the way crops can be genetically altered is by providing them with resistances to certain pests and the continued use of pesticides. Of course this would fix all of the problems with the recent pest control problem, right? WRONG. Not only did pests continue to destroy crops, but they built up resistance to them and the pesticides. Not to mention, the pesticides are still poisoning the environment.

As we have discussed in class, the ruling of a few large companies over all aspects of the agriculture industry seems to have more cons than pros. The pros being cheap prices and the need to many employees. The cons being the low wages of these workers, the lack of genetic variation in crops, the continued use of unsustainable farming, and the growth of corporate greed and wealth of the large "agriculture tycoons". The cons double the weight of the pros which should tell us that something needs to change and soon.

Although I am a big believer that corporate greed is a Goliath that is difficult to destroy, it does not give Americans an excuse to sit back and do nothing. The first step is educating people about what's going on so they can decide if a change should be made. The next step is getting people to actually get involved and stand up for what they believe. If we aren't motivated enough to make a change, how can we expect anything to happen?

Liz M.



Source:
Miguel Altieri, "Ecological Impacts of Industrial Agriculture and the Possibilities for Truly Sustainable Farming"

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