In the United States, we are fortunate to have an abundant supply of food. However, this abundance is largely due to advances in agricultural technologies, which have in turn created numerous concerns surrounding our food sources. Provide at least two recent (since the Green Revolution ended) examples of how the United States has increased its food production, and discuss how these changes have affected both the environment and food safety. Possible innovations you might cover include, but are not limited to: GM agriculture, polyculture farming, permaculture farming, vertical farms, small-scale organic farming, aquaponics, concentrated animal feeding operations, urban gardening (rooftop and vacant lot), not-till farming, precision farming, use of drones, and use of GPS technology.
Two ways that the United States has increased food production one is urban gardening and genetic modification. Urban gardening improves local food supplies and puts marginal lands to wise use and absorbs wastes in the form of compost” (Patel, 2008, p. 35). Urban gardening is the process in which plants of different types and varieties are grown in an urban environment.
Genetic modification is a debatable subject though.it is said that cotton fields had produced Amaranthus palmeri and it grew to become herbicide resistant which is making farmers lose an abundance of their crops (Turk & Bensel, 2014). Genetic modification is also known as genetic engineering, genes are transferred between organisms to make something new.
These two different ways are used to increase food production today. Pesticides are being used on plants to keep insects and some animals from them to keep them disease free. “Since crop production is a very serious business, chemicals are introduced and help tremendously by protecting against diseases that are carried by insects and other different threats (Mrak, 1984).”
Patel, I., (2008). Rutgers Urban Gardening: A Case Study in Urban Agriculture. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information. 35-46. doi:10.1300/J108V03N03_05
Turk, J., & Bensel, T. (2014). Contemporary environmental issues (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/ (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site.
Mrak, E. (1984). Pesticides: the good and the bad. Regul, Toxicol, Pharmacol. Mar;4(1):28-36. Online source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6425996
The Green Revolution was the technological response to a world-wide food shortage which became threatening in the period after WWII. The Green Revolution transformed farming practices where the principal food crops were rice, wheat and maize. How these foods are grown, processed, and distributed can have significant impacts on the environment, and there is concern that conventional approaches cannot be sustained over the long term. It was also thought that the “Green Revolution reduced the natural fertility of the soil (FAO. Fertilizer Yearbook, 1994).” An increased use of chemical herbicides and pesticides has also reduced the soils resistance to disease.
Farmers with extra profits often invest in new farming machinery, which intensifies the Green Revolution’s commercial approach to agriculture. “The Green Revolution also created a number of other problems, including the overuse of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation that depleted nutrients from the soil (Turk, J., & Bensel, T. (2014).”
Next we see another increase in food production was brought on by genetically modified foods, or GMO’s, which are foods that have had their DNA modified for a number of desired traits. The many chemical compounds present in foods behave in extremely complex ways in the human body. Although GMO foods are rigorously tested, there may be some subtle, long-term effects that cannot be detected yet. The planting of herbicide-resistant crops might encourage farmers to use weed killers more freely, since they could then be applied indiscriminately to crop fields. As a result, this increase may poison fish, wild animals, and plants and could get into human drinking water. Knowing this information, we see many challenges ahead especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, and food labeling. Many feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution so as not to cause unintended harm to humans or our environment.
I would like to offer my voice in concern regarding genetic engineering in agriculture. One major impact of GM crops — at least, the majority of such crops, which have been produced by Monsanto to be tolerant to the herbicide Roundup (which Monsanto also sells) — is that they are producing super weeds. It is not simply that farmers are tempted to use more Roundup — after all, Roundup is very costly, and farmers use only what they absolutely need. Instead, they have to use more and more of it, because weeds are rapidly evolving a tolerance for it. Eventually, the result is, and will be, more and more weeds that simply cannot be killed with Roundup at all. Then what? All that is left to farmers is to go out into their fields and pull the weeds by hand.
Here is an article about what is happening: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/10/19/herbicide-resistant-super-weeds-increasingly-plaguing-farmers
Turk,J.,& Benzel,T(2014) Contemporary environmental issues[2nd ED] San Diego,CA: Bridge point Education,Inc
FAO. Fertilizer Yeahttp://www.faostat.fao.orgrbook, (1994).