Apr
22
2009

Agribusiness saves the planet!

Big wheel keep on turnin': Modern agriculture produces more food on less space than traditional forms.
Big wheel keep on turnin': Modern agriculture produces more food on less space than traditional forms.Courtesy Andrew Stawarz

Continuing our string of counter-intuitive ecological findings, today we read an article which argues that factory farms are good for the environment. It turns out that people need food. And the 6-billion-plus people on the planet today need a LOT of food. So much so, that 38% of the Earth’s land surface is dedicated to farming. That’s a lot. But, thanks to innovations like pest-resistant foods, artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and expanding irrigation, it’s less than half the area that would be necessary under more traditional farming methods.

(Genetically modified crops are particularly beneficial, as they require fewer chemicals, less fertilizer and help reduce erosion.)

This is not to say that big farms are not without their environmental impact. But that impact is a lot less than it would have been without these innovations. So, on this Earth Day, let us give thanks to the farmers for feeding us, and for doing it so efficiently.

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