Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comments on Other People's Blogs, for Unit 8

Comment #1 - http://claudia-d-123.blogspot.com
Comment #2- http://ankerlovesbio.blogspot.com/

Feeding a Growing Population vs Conserving Biodiversity

Feeding a growing population is not something easy to accomplish. As the human population increases the ability to supply produce becomes increasingly difficult. Starting with the growing population, there is a clear domino affect. The growing population causes the constant increase in agricultural products, and because of this there has been new advances in the farming areas around world, which in some cases causes the biodiversity to decrease.

Biodiversity is the term used by scientists to capture nature’s richness and diversity, but also its biological interdependence. Biodiversity has been most generally defined as the "full variety of life on Earth" (1). All species on earth may to a greater or lesser extent be dependent on one another; each species that disappears may weaken the survival chances of another. Tropical forests, for example, digest carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. So without them our future could be seriously jeopardized. And because farming occupies more land than any other human activity in most countries, it is clear that agriculture and biodiversity are interdependent too.

Industrial agriculture would be one new advance in our world. It is a form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops.The methods of industrial agriculture are techno scientific, economic, and political. They include innovation in agricultural machinery and farming methods, genetic technology, the creation of new markets for consumption, and global trade. Most of the meat, dairy, eggs, fruits, and vegetables available in supermarkets are produced using these methods of industrial agriculture.

But while using this new form of advance, we are affecting our biodiversity. Over the last fifty to eighty years, most of the world's agriculture has been transformed into an "industrial agriculture." In the 1920s machines began to replace human and animal power for preparing soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting crops. Since the 1930s, newly developed, high- yielding crop varieties have been replacing traditional varieties. Most of these new varieties require inputs such as irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers.

"Industrial agriculture contaminates our vegetables and fruits with pesticides, slips dangerous bacteria into our lettuce, and puts genetically engineered growth hormones into our milk. It is not surprising that cancer, food-borne illnesses, and obesity are at an all-time high." (4) It is a scary thought when placed infront of you, is it not? Look at the photo to the right, it looks disgusting in the simplest way of saying.

As well, seen in the graph below, since the end of World War II, industrial agriculture has increasingly applied synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to their crops. Insecticides and fungicides do not destroy only pests; they also kill their natural enemies. The natural enemies of insect pests include other insects that are parasites and predators, as well as pathogenic fungi. Pest species evolve resistance to pesticides much faster than their enemies, and thus pest populations quickly recover. Loss of natural enemies also leads to outbreaks of "secondary pests" species that are not a problem until pesticides eliminate their natural enemies. As a result of pest resistance and secondary pest outbreaks, increasing amounts of pesticides must be applied, or more toxic chemicals must be developed.

While Industrial Agriculture is seen as wrong, sustainable agriculture is the complete opposite. Sustainable agriculture seeks to make use of nature’s goods and ecosystem services while producing an optimal yield in an economically, environmentally, and socially rewarding way, preserving resources for future generations. Sustainable agriculture use water, land, nutrients, and other natural resources effectively or at the rate they are replenished so that resources are conserved, for example, using water effectively means taking into consideration other ecosystem services that water provides: flood mitigation, nutrient cycling, drinking water supply, and sanitation. Sustainable agriculture manages biodiversity in such a manner that biological resources are sustained, for example, maintaining wild relatives of crop species within agricultural landscapes sustains biodiversity. Lastly sustainable agriculture minimizes the impact of agriculture on the wider environment in order to sustain the other ecosystem services, such as, minimizing chemical inputs, especially non-renewable sources, so there is minimal damage to the surrounding ecosystem.

In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a complete, living animal. Several current research projects are growing in vitro meat experimentally, although no meat has yet been produced for public consumption. The first-generation products will most likely be minced meat, and a long-term goal is to grow fully developed muscle tissue. Potentially, any animal's muscle tissue could be grown through the in vitro process.With the costs of conventional meat farming techniques constantly increasing and the rising world population (reaching 9.2 billion people by the year 2050[2]), in vitro meat may become an unavoidable fact of life for people around the world by the year 2050. (3)

Shown in the picture above is a sea of shoppers and vendors in Lagos, Nigeria. This shows just how large our population is, and represents just how much we have no choice but to increase our food production in order to survive, and keep our planet intact. Our planet is going to experince alot of change over the next few years, and it is important we don't forget that our increase in population will affect the resources available to us.


1- http://redpath-museum.mcgill.ca/Qbp/5.Bib&Glos/refs.html#takacs

2- http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpop.php

3- http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/16/artificial-meat-food-royal-society

4- http://ukiahcommunityblog.wordpress.com/category/industrial-agriculture/

Cites Consulted:

5- http://www.cbd.int/ibd/2008/sustainable-agriculture/

6- http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1268946647678&lang=eng