Hey, there.

Hello, my name is Jo-an. It's spelled Joan, but really it's pronounced as the former. But, by now I react just as much to Joan as I do to my real name, so you can call me by both. You can even call me Jack if you want.

Anyways, this is my Biology blog. You know that course SBI 3U1? Yeah, this blog is made solely for that purpose. Basically, this blog will be used to respond to various topics presented to me throughout the course. I'll try to be as insightful as I can, but forgive me if it doesn't exactly come through on the world wide web. Okay, enough with the formal stuff. To conclude this little reverie of mine, I hope you enjoy this trip through my brain. Well, the Biology section of my brain, anyway.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feeding a Growing Population vs. Conserving Biodiversity

When walking into a grocery store, I hardly wonder where the food is coming from. But now that this topic is being approached in the course, it makes me think. Obviously, the answer would be from various farmers and producers. Now, one might wonder, with our growing population, how are our food sources able to keep up with it all? It must be difficult.

Industrial Agriculture

The best way to explain how they are able to keep up with the multiplying population is through "industrial agriculture". Industrial agriculture is a modern form of farming that uses industrialized ways to produce livestock, poultry and other crops. There are various methods to industrial agriculture, and these include: technoscientific, economic and political. These methods include innovation in farming methods and agricultural machinery, genetic technology upon other ways. In fact, most meat, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables in our supermarkets are produced using this method. 

While this may be a good way to keep us satisfied with the products, there is a dark side to this. First, there is genetically engineered seeds and organisms. This is when a seed is manipulated in a lab to do something that isn't what nature intended. The seeds are planted, and then they grow. The food they produce have been proven to cause cancer and other problems in lab animals. This is also altering the genetics of these products. This is the type of food we are eating.
The biggest problem we're faced with is: while we are using this to maximize our benefits (cheap and plentiful food, convenience for the consumer, etc), we are also coming up with downsides (environmental and social costs, increased health risks, etc). The choice is, to use industrial agriculture or to not. This is a tough decision since it gives us both major pros and cons.

There seems to be a third option in "sustainable agriculture". Sustainable agriculture is a way of farming that tries to make products that is healthy for everyone. Organic farmers stay away from things like biotechnology, pesticides, and other things that would be used by an industrial farmer. Instead they use different ways, like recycling crop waste and livestock.This seems like a stellar idea, but most organic products are more expensive because of said production methods.

At what cost should we pay to keep up with our growing population? The choices are clear. I saw the pros to industrial and sustainable agriculture, and I saw the cons. While we are keeping up with the population, we are also causing harm to the environment, not to mention the biodiversity of it.  In the end, sustainable agriculture is better for us in general than industrial agriculture. I think the decision is easy for me, I would much rather eat organically for a higher monetary price than eat industrially for a higher cost, and these costs aren't monetary.

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