With the increasing population recently breaching the 7 billion mark, and no sign of slowing, you may have heard some UN-supported scientists claim that certain foods will need to double production to keep up with rising demand.
This – along with massive support from Big Agri for GMOs and factory farming – seem to indicate that further industrialization of the food industry is all that can save the world from starvation. Not exactly.
Do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world?
A study by the University of California, Berkeley, presented exhaustive alternatives to current practices. One section of the paper cited research pointing to the positive effects of biodiversity on the numbers of herbivore pests, finding that polycultural planting led to reduction of pest populations by up to 64%. Later, combined results of hundreds of comparisons also favored biologically diverse farms with a 54% increase in pest mortality and damage to crops dropping by almost 25%. The introduction of more diverse insects also promoted increased pollination and healthier crops.(source ecology and society)
So the USDA knows this eye-opening evidence, yet it continues to give tens of billions in subsidies to keep current industry.
Soil management is a key long-term investment for farmers, many of whom are not presented with viable alternatives to the current practice by the tightly controlled agriculture landscape. Biodiverse practices have been shown repeatedly to not only balance soil nutrition, but lead to a healthier array of forage choices for livestock, more nutrition and a more long-term, sustainable balance with local ecosystems.
Karen Perry Stillerman of the Union of Concerned Scientists put it perfectly:
It’s important to remember who has that interest….and who doesn’t.
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