Social and Environmental Ramifications of Modern Farming Practices
Changing Trends towards Sustainable Farming Practices
An ever growing world population, rapid urbanization and industrialization have resulted in intensified agricultural practices. The agricultural products and ecosystem services are both very essential part of human existence and largely affect quality of life. The intensified modern agricultural practices have greatly increased global food supply but have detrimental impacts on the environment highlighting the need for more sustainable agricultural methods. Today agriculture scientists around the globe are recognizing the fact that the old farming systems like organic farming that existed for millenniums present the best agriculture practices for saving the environment. The means and ways by which human species nourish itself need to be changed to save the finite resources of earth and to avoid environmental degradation. Taking environmental perspectives and food security factors in to consideration the most pertinent question that need to be answered is : what can be human choices about food i.e. choices about food production systems, choices about processed foods and the choices about distribution of food .
ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTION
The past two centuries have witnessed tremendous changes in the food production ways. The agriculture has changed from subsistence agriculture to commercial production. Commercialized farming has been made possible through modern agriculture practices such as increased use of chemicals. Today modern agriculture feeds 6,000 million people. Global cereal production has doubled in the past 40 years. Green revolution has increased the global per capita food supply and therefore reducing hunger and improving nutrition of people. High-input or intensified farming practices - such as deep drainage, large-scale irrigation, heavy pesticide use and multiple cropping are leading to environmental and ecosystem degradation. "Doubling in global food demand projected for the next 50 years poses huge challenges for the sustainability both of food production and of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the services they provide to society. New incentives and policies for ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and ecosystem services will be crucial if we are to meet the demands of improving yields without compromising environmental integrity or public health,"( Tilman , Cassman, Matson, Naylor & Polasky , 2002).
In other words sustainability is the major problem today which means maintaining high yields but having agricultural practices that have acceptable environmental impacts. For the short term these modern farming practices have been able to raise yield by increasing use of chemicals but in long term these modern trends in agriculture have many serious social and environmental ramifications. Increased yield is being gained at the cost of environment and interests of society. Mechanization of farm activities has led to more unemployment and farmers are in greater debt. Biocides entering the food chain, loss of top layer of soil, depletion of water and fossil fuels are some fine examples of environmental degradation. Soil salinity is the most serious environmental problem today. Modern agricultural practices are more focused on monoculture i.e. growing variety specific crops thus leading to genetic decay and loss of diverse variety mixture. Toxic biocides were supposed to kill pests and insects but insects have developed resistance to these and so this phenomenon is compelling the farmers to use these toxic biocides in larger quantities. This is raising cost of production and thus a financial strain on farmers. Pesticides poisoning is on increase. People are losing health due to biological magnification and less nutritious crops. The energy efficiency of agriculture has decreased drastically specifically in the most developed...