32. An Alternative Sustainable Agricultural Approach Which is Possible

In the 20th century, humanity produced more food than at any other time in history. But while today’s agriculture and food systems are extraordinarily productive they have also created tremendous pressures on natural resources and ecosystems.

Though out the world today millions of individual are going without the proper foods to live a normal and healthy life and millions starve. This does not have to be the case for their is much that can be done to feed the world’s population. Here I would like to briefly mention a number of possibilities that would if put into practice solve the hunger problems of the world. Agricultural scientific solutions are moving forward however because of the greed of mankind in too many cases not fast enough. More science is needed, many solutions are today available however not put into practice, money must be used and further experimentation is needed.

The study of agricultural solutions that now face our planet is the study of Agroecology. Agroecologists study questions related to the four system properties of agroecosystems: productivity, stability, and accountability. They look for an alternative, sustainable agricultural approach that incorporates the economic, environmental and social dimensions. There are several ways that the world’s food problems could be solved. I would like to here make mention of a few of what some may think as futuristic answers. I myself do believe that these advances in agriculture will come about although they could sooner if nations would take aggressive actions.

One answer is the use of multiple crops in the same space. This would be the imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems and avoid large stands of single crops. It is called polyculture. It includes multi-cropping, intercropping, companion planting, beneficial weeds, and alley cropping. This form of agriculture with the use of diversity avoids the sustainability of monocultures to disease. A study in China reported in the publication Nature showed that planting several varieties of rice in the same field increased yields by 89%, largely because of a dramatic (94%) decrease in the incidence of disease, which made pesticides redundant. Full use is made of the soil throughout the growing season; whereas in a monoculture, the space between the plants would stay unused for half the season. The different shapes and sizes of the root systems of the component plants make fuller use of the soil than a monoculture system would.

Integrated agriculture is another solution that could aid in feeding the world’s population. This is the practice of locating high-performance hydroponic greenhouse farming systems within multistory buildings. Using this system crops could be grown within populated areas. Multistory buildings located within cities could supply the needs of the city’s population and it would not be necessary to transport agricultural products long distances.Typical characteristics would be the recycling of waste heat captured from a building’s heating ventilation systems. This form of agriculture is referred to as vertical farming. The new cities of the future would be built around this concept where transportation was not needed to bring produce thousands of miles to the user for the producer would be within a few miles of the consumer. This would bring down the cost of all products to the consumer tremendously. Vertical farming would make it possible to have vertical farms anyplace in the world such as in desert areas as well as on the tundra.

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Aquaculture is also known as aquafarming is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans. Mollusks and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions. The oceans and other waterways of our planet are being over-fished. We now are at a time where large fish are on the danger species list or should be. We drag the bottom of our oceans and waterways in order to harvest shrimp and other species destroying the natural adequate systems of these waterways. With the proper use of aquaculture, it would be possible to either alleviate in the future many of these harmful practices and at the same time supply the world with much-needed aqua food as well as edible plants. These agricultural products could, in addition, be more fortified with the vitamins that are needed for the human survival. In addition, there would be byproducts of this type of agriculture, such as the waste produced in this process could be used as a source of energy.

Presently there is much debate over the use of genetic engineering of crops and animal agricultural products. At this point, no (GE) animals have been approved by the FDA to enter the food supply. Many concerns have been raised over the inadequate testing of the effects of genetic engineering on humans and the environment. Genetic engineering is still an emerging field, and scientists do not know exactly what can result from putting the DNA of one species into another.The introduction of foreign DNA into an organism could trigger other DNA in the plant or animal to mutate and change. In addition, researchers do not know if there are any long-term or unintended side effects from eating (GE) foods.

Supporters of genetic engineering point to the potential benefits of engineered crops, including increased yield, tolerance of drought, reduce pesticide use, more efficient use of fertilizers, and being able to produce drugs or other useful chemicals. Genetic engineering is the modification of an organism, genetic composition by artificial means, often involving the transfer of specific traits, or genes, from one organism into a plant or animal of an entirely different species. Genetic engineering is different from traditional cross breeding, which can only be exchanged between closely related species. For example, scientists in Taiwan has successfully inserted jellyfish genes into pigs in order to make them glow-in-the-dark. Pigs that glow-in-the-dark do not at this time appear to be of much practical use, however, scientist have been able to genetically engineer goats to produce milk where when the milk was processed it can produce a fiber stronger than metals now mined.

To me, scientific experimentation in what is referred to as In vitro meat is most interesting. In Vitro meat also known as cultured meat, test tube meat, tube steak, or smart, is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a complete, living animal. In November 2009, scientists from the Netherlands announced they had managed to grow meat in the laboratory using the cells from a live pig. The process of developing In Vitro meat involves taking muscle cells and applying a protein that helps the cells to grow into large portions of meat. In vitro meat does not necessarily involve genetic engineering. In fact, the cells involved are natural cells, which would grow in the normal method. Once the initial cells have been obtained, additional animals would not be needed. An example of this is the production of yogurt culture which is much akin to the production of In vitro meat production. Conceivably, one animal could provide more than a billion pounds of in vitro meat. This would feed the world’s population for at least several hundred years. If the possibility of In vitro meat does become a fact there would be no longer the need to raise and slaughter animals. In 2008, Peta offered a $1 million prize to the first company that brings lab-grown chicken meat to consumers by 2012. (This has not been done as of now.) The Dutch government has put up 4 million into experiments regarding In vitro meat.

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In this abundant world of agricultural production different methods could be combined such as the use of bioreactors, this is where the In vitro meat will be produced, in the vertical agricultural buildings with the ground floor used for agriculture as well as other methods such as Aquaponics. Aquaponics consists of two main parts, with the aquaculture part of raising aquatic animals and the hydroponics part of growing plants.

It is my belief that scientific progress cannot be stopped, although it can be slowed up by various human factors which for selfish and idealistic reasons will do so. Some of the methods mentioned above will come into being and their use will become common. More new systems to produce less costly foods and product will follow. The question is how soon. American funds, private as well as public must be invested. If America does not others will.

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