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Lecture 5

Week 5 Lecture 1 GEOG 2200 2013 Notes.docx

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GEOG 2200
John Milton

Page1GEOG 2200 Global ConnectionsJohn Milton Instructor SeptemberDecember 2013Week 5Lecture 1 The Global AgriFood Industry for the Global ConnoisseurA changing industry The production distribution and consumption of food have been transformed in dramatic ways since the Second World WarFor many hundreds of millions of people globally the struggle for basic subsistence is still an everyday realityand starvation is always an everpresent possibilityBUT for millions of othersincluding ourselvesthis transformation is as much a statement about lifestyle as it is about survivalAs Watts and Goodman wrote in 1997 at the end of the last millennium The food economy is on the one hand increasingly differentiated in new sorts of ways at the level of consumptionsome within LDCs are eating better at a time when others in Africa are descending into a universe of evergreater food insecurity millions in California go hungry while others consume designer organic vegetables shuttled around the world in sophisticated cool chainsOn the other hand at the level of production and distribution the food economy is being restructured in radically new waysincreasingly driven by global demand and internationalization of the agrofood industry The giant food companies and the large retailers are aggressively transforming the world agrofood economyIn some respects the modern agrifood industry may seem little different from clothing automobiles or electronics when it comes to global organization Sanderson in 1986 predicted the creation of the world steer or cow as a direct parallel to the world carBut it does have more profound and immediate impacts that we will come back to later And the basic fact remains that unlike other industries the food industry is grounded in biophysical processes Therefore the analysis of the industrialization of food production greatly oversimplifies the highly complex and geographically differentiated industries that make up the agri or agro food industryWhile food production remains an intensely local process bound to specific climatic soil and often sociocultural conditionsat the same time certain kinds of local productionspecifically highvalued foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables poultry dairy products and shellfishhave increasingly become global in terms of their distribution and consumptionWhy is this Or perhaps a better question is who benefits from this globalizationWhat has permitted this globalization of food There are three components to this globalization processes of globalization freer trade advances in transportation and communications technologies notably cold storage technology and harmonization of national food safety and to a lesser extent quality regulations Today producing food requires huge capital investments giving immense power to multinational food producers and big retailers Industrial agriculture has also created huge environmental disturbances in terms of excessive exploitation of sensitive natural ecosystems From a North perspective it is characterized by increasing attempts to genetically modify seed plants and even animals and to patent life to create designer life and there are serious human health issues linked to industrial forms of agricultureToday debates are not focused solely on prices Page2but also on food safetysecurity and ethicsof our use of science to create GM life From a South perspective there remain crucial issues of food security land ownership and human rightsThe global agricultural baseBiophysical foundationLets begin with what is where This is not a grade nine geography class so we are not going to spend time summarizing the actual distribution of agriculture and agricultural resources Lets simply summarize it as follows Agricultural depends upon a complex interaction of soils water and climate Agricultural land now forms a significant proportion some 38 of the worlds total land areaLike all natural resources agricultural lands and fresh water are not evenly distributed geographically on our planet Map of agricultural lands And like the food producing lands fresh water is not available evenly either geographically or in terms of time throughout the year For example the agriculture of south Asia India Bangladesh Sri Lanka and Pakistan is defined by the monsoons map of fresh waterAnd finally the earths climate ranges from the tropical to the temperate to the polarThe different combinations of these factors produce a vibrant and diverse global agricultural tapestry of food types and agricultural practicesTypes of agricultureThe many types of agriculture can be classified into two basic groupings subsistence agriculture and commercial or industrial agriculture In general subsistence agriculture is also referred to as peasant agricultureSubsistence agriculture is the kind of agriculture done by poor farmers who have small plots only grow enough food for themselves Industrial agriculture is defined as a modern form of capital intensive farming in which the machinery and purchased are substituted for the labor of human beings and animals Industrial agriculture requires huge amounts of innovation in agriculture machinery and their utilization synthetic fertilizers and pesticides genetic technology large amounts of irrigation water and creates new markets for consumption The method ofindustrial agriculture is used mostly in the developed countriesSubsistence or peasant agriculture can be further broken down into the dominant activities or crops shifting cultivation or slash and burn or swidden agriculture pastoral nomadism intensive subsistence wet rice dominant intensive subsistence wet rice not dominant and plantation Commercial agriculture can also be further broken down primarily by the dominant activity mixed crop and agriculture dairy grain and oilseed livestock ranching Mediterranean and truckcorporate In addition to these broad categories there are emerging forms of agricultural productionsuch as organicin the periphery semiperiphery and core countries The local and global Where does our food come fromIts pretty obvious to state that different types of foods come from different places in the world In Canada we cannot grow oranges or grapefruits rice or a wide range of spices because of our climate We also grow only one crop per season with perhaps the exception of hay which we can harvest up to three times per year In tropical regions of the worldincluding Chinasoutheast Asian countries India Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the Amazonfarmers can grow two crops of rice per year
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