- The current production of food for humanity is one of the main reasons behind the continued deterioration of Earth’s natural environment.
- The reason behind this is quite simple; in order to feed humanity’s ever-growing population, it has become necessary to expand farmland and utilize more natural resources.
- This has the consequence of creating significant environmental damage to the point that humanity’s continued expansion and food production has begun to threaten the stability of the natural environment.
Rampant Overpopulation and Food – Problems
- The main reason behind the problem of resource overconsumption which threatens the very future of the planet is the rampant food production of humanity which threatens to drain the resources of the planet.
- As the population of humanity grows, so too does the strain the human species places on the planet (Grunert, Bredahl & Scholderer 2003).
- This strain can be seen in the increased consumption of water which has drained underground water reservoirs which have turned formerly lush plains turned into arid deserts (Grunert, Bredahl & Scholderer 2003).
- Humanity can be compared to a swarm of locusts, consuming everything indiscriminately in its path and leaving nothing but ruin in its wake.
- If current trends are not changed what will be left will be nothing more than a dry, empty shell of a planet with few exploitable resources and nothing more than a hellish environmental scenario for future generations (Frewer, Van der Lans, Fischer, Reinders, Menozzi, Zhang & Zimmermann 2013).
- Since the Earth is a closed-off ecosystem with a finite amount of resources, if nothing is done to conserve and ensure these resources will be present in the long run, there may come a time when the Earth will no longer be able to support human civilization (Mohapatra, Priyadarshini & Biswas 2010).
- As the human population continues to expand, so too makes the demand for resources increase. Unfortunately, resources that command the highest demand (wood, freshwater, and food) are only renewable to a certain extent while others have a set amount and cannot be replenished at all.
- Advocates of environmental conservation such as former U.S. vice president Al Gore continue to reiterate the need to change the current rate and method of consumption so as to utilize resources better to ensure that they will continue to remain there for future generations (The future of food 2011).
Positive Effects of the Future of Food being the Future of the Planet
- Genetically modified crops are no longer considered a fanciful notion existing in the realm of science fiction but are in fact currently being utilized as a means to grow edible agricultural products. It is only a matter of time until the technology develops to such an extent that it will be utilized as a method of feeding the growing population of humanity (Chase 1969).
- There are already various studies being conducted to research viable methods of making cows grow bigger, faster and have a much shorter gestation time (Saraiva & Wise 2010).
- Present-day methods of food production are only “barely” able to provide for the needs of most of the planet, and a significant amount of strain can already be seen in the form of depleting populations of normally abundant aquatic species that humanity has used for food for generations (Brown 2003).
- Non-genetically modified agricultural plants such as corn, tomatoes, apples and a variety of fruits are more susceptible to disease, insect infestations as well as several other biologically related circumstances that would result in fewer crop yields as compared to instances where genetically modified plants were utilized instead (Only the brave market GM 2009).
- Genetic modification can potentially make plants grow faster, have more yields and in effect could double or triple the current production capacity of the agricultural industry as we know it today (Diaz-Sanchez, Hanning, Pendleton & D’Souza 2013).
- Allergen studies conducted to test the allergenicity factor of genetically modified food crops have shown that there are no current strains of the genetically modified crop that have the potential to cause allergies in humans.
- The concept of Franken- meat stems from the concept of genetically engineering lab-grown meat in order to replace the current method of cultivating livestock so as to make meat cheaper and more readily available.
- In the case of beef and other meat-based products, it could be possible in the future to clone the types of meat we want to eat thus resulting in fewer resources being utilized to produce this particular type of consumer good (Leaver 2011).
- It can be argued that genetically modified foods can be thought of as a potential solution to the current problems that the world faces in relation to the increasing price of agricultural products within the global market.
Possible Problems with the Future of Food being the Future of the Planet
- The problem with genetically modified foods being the future of food production is that they may have negative effects on some populations.
- One prime example is the case of a genetically modified soybean strain that was found to cause an allergic reaction in humans due to genetic material from the Brazil nut being introduced into the soybean’s genetic makeup.
- Another example of a genetically modified crop that caused allergic reactions was a strain of pest-resistant field pea that was introduced for testing in small areas in Australia. The crop was not just resistant to normal pests, but it actually caused an allergic reaction in mice that were fed the fully grown peas.
What must be taken into consideration is the fact that the Earth has a finite amount of land resources available. At the current rate of population growth, the human population will reach an estimated 12 or 13 billion by 2055 and will keep on increasing exponentially after that. As such, the need will arise to effectively and efficiently provide enough food for a continuously growing population. The use of genetically engineered food might be the only way to do so despite the apparent risks in eating products that may cause allergies or change the body’s genetic chemistry. Based on this, there are two possible outcomes that can be carried out, either the population of humanity stabilizes at an appropriate number to prevent the overutilization of resources or science improves in order to meet the demands of a growing population. This paper thus concludes that the future of food production will definitely impact the means by which Earth’s environment will either be sustained in the future or will be destroyed in order to feed the population of humanity.
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