Industrial Farming: The Worst Crimes in History
A centennial ago industrial agriculture appeared to be the solution for a world whose population was rapidly expanding. Synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and high-yield cereal hybrids were all touted as solutions to famine, population growth, and economic prosperity. As a result, the world's agricultural productivity tripled between 1960 and 2000, producing low-cost food in excess and preventing worldwide food shortages.
However, these new-age farming practices came at a significant price, as not everything worked as planned. Today, the environment and the topsoil have suffered greatly as a result of decades of Tilling, Monocrop farming and the use of chemicals & pesticides etc. It has hastened the depletion of organic content from an average of 6% - 9% to a current world average of 0.5% as per UNFAO and thereby releasing tons of carbon into the atmosphere to add to earth warming, leading to climate changes and further floods and more soil erosions.
Industrialized food's low price might have concealed its extremely high environmental cost.
1. Pesticide use is harmful to people's health.
Large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are utilized to improve agricultural yields. Humans may be exposed to these potentially hazardous pesticides through their food. The followings are the negative health consequences of consuming pesticide grown foods - functioning as endocrine disruptors, possibly influencing reproductive functions, increasing the risk of breast cancer, producing aberrant growth patterns and developmental delays in children, and modifying immunological function. The endosulfan tragedy in Kerala’s Kasargod District is a standing example of such a disaster.
2. It has the potential to aid in the transmission of viruses from animals to humans.
All pesticides have some level of toxicity. Although Genetic variety provides natural disease resistance in animals, even the least hazardous items can cause health problems when an animal is exposed to them frequently enough, as they are more sensitive to diseases. As a result, viruses can easily transmit among animals and then to humans if they are kept in close contact.
3. It encourages the development of antibiotic resistance.
Antimicrobials are commonly used to prevent and treat the infection on fruit trees. Over time, micro-organisms develop resistance, making antimicrobials less effective as medicine, more than 700,000 people die because of resistant infections every year. According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance “threatens the achievements of modern medicine” and may precipitate “a post-antibiotic era, where common infections and minor injuries can kill humans.”
4. It appears that the deal isn't exactly as good as it appears.
Externalized costs, such as the funds required to filter tainted drinking water or cure diseases connected to poor nutrition, are also unaccounted for by the industry, implying that communities and taxpayers may be footing the bill without even recognizing it. As a result, it has an indirect impact on economic welfare.
5. It contaminates water, and soil and has a negative impact on human health.
Agriculture contributes significantly to water pollution by discharging vast amounts of manure, pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones into waterways. Both aquatic ecosystems and human health are in danger as a result of this. In fact, the most prevalent chemical contamination in agriculture- nitrate, induces, "blue baby syndrome," which can result in newborn death.
6. Obesity and chronic disease epidemics are a result of industrial farming.
Industrial agriculture primarily produces commodity crops, which are then employed in a wide range of low-cost, calorie-dense foods that are widely available. As a result, only three cereal crops–rice, maize, and wheat–provide 60% of total dietary energy.
This calorie-based strategy falls short of nutritional guidelines for fruit, vegetable, and pulse consumption. The popularity of processed, packaged, and prepared foods have contributed to an increase in worldwide obesity, and many people are suffering from diet-related ailments such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several malignancies. Also, the depletion of topsoil & deterioration of its organic content & microbial colonies has made even the best-grown food to be devoid of necessary nutrients and those available are inadequate as nutritional values i.e. – Vitamin A from a single orange 60 – 70 years ago, now needs 8 – 10 oranges to suffice.
7. It promotes inequality.
Even though small farms account for 72% of all farms, they only account for 8% of all agricultural areas of the world. On the other hand, large farms occupy 65 per cent of agricultural land despite accounting for only 1% of the world's farms. Large farms have disproportionate influence as a result, and there is little motivation to develop technologies that might help resource-poor smallholder farmers, particularly in developing nations.
You might be asking yourself, What’s the Alternative? The Answer Is Natural Farming.
Natural farming is a type of farming that mimics the natural ecosystem. The most important feature of natural farming is allowing nature to play a dominant role, as much as possible. As a result, no-till farming, farm biodiversity, farm integration and symbiotic farm components, and soil cover protection all have a place in this agricultural process.
Main Features of Natural Farming
- Physical work and labour can be highly reduced when compared to other agricultural systems.
- Yields similar or more to chemical agriculture are possible.
- There is an increase in soil fertility year after year.
- Water requirement is minimized.
Natural farming or no-till farming is often referred to as ‘Rishi Kheti’, which is based on ancient Vedic principles of farming, which include the use of animal waste to enrich the soil and herbal juices to control pests, promoting healthier nutrition-rich crops.
Fertile soil which is essential for the continuation of life on earth has been constantly depleted due to salination, Industrial & Chemical pollution, Acidification, and Excessive use of chemicals and pesticides used in agriculture. Modern/industrial farming methods like deep tilling & exposing microbes to intense sunlight and heat result in the destruction & extinction of their colonies and loss of organic carbon, hence the loss of fertility of the soil has reached alarming levels.
To ensure life on planet earth, we need to join efforts globally to revitalize, rejuvenate and recreate soil with 3% - 6% organic content by bringing about compulsive policies by government and individual/community practices.
It’s imperative to shift to Natural farming systematically and scientifically with the help of government, NGOs & help organizations to handhold and teach the farmers to do fertility farming, organic & sustainable methods like Amrut Krishi, Vedic agriculture & incorporating effective use of agroforestry and other multiple revenue sources to de-risk the farming community. Promote the use of locally available resources like an animal (cow) manure & biomass from surrounding areas, effective use of the sun with tree canopy, use of various plant and animal extracts and waste to create solutions to deal with growth, yield, pests management and continuity of the agricultural cycle, A process that is in harmony with nature and environment.
Jaivik Farms practices natural & sustainable farming.