Industrialized agricultural systems have given America a convenient and affordable means to supply a surplus of food products to its citizens. Transgenic technology, synthesized fertilizers, advanced pesticides, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and the use of farm machinery have all contributed to humanity’s ability to feed the world’s rapidly growing population. However, the energy-intensive food operation of today may not be as ideal as we assume. Fossil fuels are burned to meet the energy requirements for the continual production of large quantities of fertilizer and to keep farm machines operational. Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from farmland ultimately drains into rivers that empty into estuaries and the oceans, where they contribute to hypoxia and weakening of competitive ability in aquatic animals. Indeed, there is some debate as to the necessity of industrial agricultural practices in light of the risks that have become associated with them after greater scrutiny. This article presents and analyzes information related to the consequences of agriculture on the long-term well-being of the global ecosystem, and addresses the sharp duality that has developed over this issue.
"The Agricultural Footprints on the Environment,"
Vol. 8, Article 7.
Available at: http://uknowledge.uky.edu/kaleidoscope/vol8/iss1/7