Chapter 10: Feeding the World

10.9 Chapter Resources

Summary

Progress continues in the fight against hunger, yet an unacceptably large number of people still lack the food they need for an active and healthy life. About 795 million people in the world still go to bed hungry every night, and an even greater number live in poverty. Poverty is the major driver of food insecurity. Improvements in agricultural productivity are necessary to increase rural household incomes and access to available food but are insufficient to ensure food security. Food security is essentially built on four pillars: availability, access, utilization and stability. Women are crucial in the translation of the products of a vibrant agriculture sector into food and nutritional security for their households. They are often the farmers who cultivate food crops and produce commercial crops alongside the men in their households as a source of income. Over the past 20 years, a global obesity epidemic has emerged. Due to established health implications and rapid increase in prevalence, obesity is now a recognized major global health challenge, and no national success stories in curbing its growth have so far been reported. Genetic engineering is the name for methods that scientists use to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism. Advocates say that application of genetic engineering in agriculture has resulted in benefits to farmers, producers, and consumers. Opponents believe GMOs should be banned for ecological, socio-economic and human health reasons. Some critics advise that the risks for the introduction of a GMO into each new ecosystem need to be examined on a case-by-case basis, alongside appropriate risk management measures.

In agriculture and horticulture, soil generally refers to the medium for plant growth, typically material within the upper meter or two. Soil plays a key role in plant growth. Beneficial aspects to plants include providing physical support, heat, water, nutrients, and oxygen. Heat, light, and oxygen are also obtained through the atmosphere, but the roots of many plants also require oxygen. The prevailing agricultural system has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency. Food production worldwide has risen in the past 50 years. On the other hand, agriculture profoundly affects many ecological systems. Negative effects of current practices include ecological concerns, economic and social concerns and human health concerns. Pesticides from every chemical class have been detected in groundwater and are commonly found in groundwater beneath agricultural areas. Despite impressive production gains, excessive use of pesticides has proven to be ecologically unsound, leading to the destruction of natural enemies, the increase of pest resistance, pest resurgence, and outbreaks of secondary pests. These consequences have often resulted in higher production costs and lost markets due to undesirable pesticide residue levels, as well as environmental and human health costs. Alternative and sustainable practices in farming and land use include organic agriculture, integrated pest management and biological control. These practices help to reduce or eliminate many of the harmful impacts associated with conventional agriculture.

Review Questions

  1. Explain the four dimensions of food security.
  2. How are poverty and food security related?
  3. Define hidden hunger.
  4. Why is women’s role in agriculture important in food security?
  5. Do you think that biotechnology should be used to change the genetic makeup of the plants and animals that humans consume for food? What might be the benefits and risks? Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks?

Review Questions

  1. What is the importance of soil to our society today?
  2. Explain some negative impacts of conventional agriculture.
  3. Explain the three characteristics of POPs that make them difficult to eradicate from the environment.
  4. Explain the grasshopper effect.
  5. Define terms pest and pesticide.
  6. Explain the advantages of IPM approach.

References

Bora, S., Ceccacci, I., Delgado, C. & Townsend, R. (2011). Food security and conflict. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/11719. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0).  Modified from original.

CK12. (2015). Food and nutrients. Accessed August 31, 2015 at  http://www.ck12.org/user:a3F1aWNrQHdlYmIub3Jn/section/Food-and-Nutrients/. Available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. (CC BY-NC 3.0). Modified from original.

Godheja, J. (2013). Impact of GMO’S on environment and human health. Recent Research In Science And Technology, 5(5). Retrieved from http://recent-science.com/index.php/rrst/article/view/17028. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0). Modified from original.

Maghari, B. M., & Ardekani, A. M. (2011). Genetically Modified Foods and Social Concerns. Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology, 3(3), 109–117.

World Bank; Food and Agriculture Organization; International Fund for Agricultural Development. (2009). Gender in agriculture sourcebook. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6603. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0).  Modified from original.

World Bank Group. (2015). Ending poverty and hunger by 2030: An agenda for the global food system. Washington, DC. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/21771. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 IGO (CC BY 3.0 IGO). Modified from original.

Kelly, L. (2005). The global integrated pest management facility. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/19053. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0). Modified from Original.

NAL. (2007). Sustainable agriculture: Definitions and terms. Retrieved from http://afsic.nal.usda.gov/sustainable-agriculture-definitions-and-terms-1#toc1. Modified from Original.

Theis T. & Tomkin J. (Eds.). (2015). Sustainability: A comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Retrieved from http://cnx.org/contents/1741effd-9cda-4b2b-a91e-003e6f587263@43.5. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0).  Modified from Original.

World Bank. (2004). Persistent organic pollutants: Backyards to borders. Washington, DC. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/14896. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0 IGO). Modified from Original.

World Bank. (2005). Sustainable pest management: Achievements and challenges. Washington, DC. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/8646. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0). Modified from Original.

World Bank. (2008). Sustainable land management sourcebook. Washington, DC. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6478. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0). Modified from Original.

World Bank; Food and Agriculture Organization; International Fund for Agricultural Development. (2009). Gender in agriculture sourcebook. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. Retrieved from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6603. Available under Creative Commons Attribution License License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0 IGO). Modified from Original.

Essentials of Environmental Science by Kamala Doršner is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Modified from the original.

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Environmental Issues by Andrew Frank is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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