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Chapter 5

GGR107H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Crop Diversity, Precautionary Principle, Compost


Department
Geography
Course Code
GGR107H1
Professor
Sarah Wakefield
Chapter
5

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CHAPTER 5: BIOTECHNOLOGY AND FOOD RESOURCES
Corn is a staple grain in the world’s food supply and comes in many varieties due to selective breeding
Corn is one of the many crops that have been Genetically modified to express traits such as
Large size
Fast growth
Resistance to insects and pests
In Mexico, scientist discovered that the maize in Mexico contained DNA of transgenes (GM crops) although Mexico has
banned the cultivation of GM crops since 1998. Main cause was due to pollen from GM maize in the US blown south to
Mexico.
In Canada a case of genetic diversity contamination occurred between Monsanto and Percy Schmeiser
Schmeiser grew canola which were non GM crops
Pollen from Monsanto GM crops contaminated Schmeiser’s canola crops
In 2002, Canada became the first nation to prohibit the patent holding of higher organisms
5.1. THE RACE TO FEED THE WORLD
Human population is increasing and is projected to increase by 9 billion people by 2050. Even though the growth has
slowed
To feed the growing population, the integrity of the agricultural system will need to employ sustainable practices
Approaches could include organic farming to GM farming.
5.1.1. WE ARE PRODUCING MORE FOOD PER PERSON
The ability to grow food has grown faster than the human population
Due to political obstacles and inefficient distribution, 850 million people have nothing to eat
Every 5 seconds a child dies from hunger
Agricultural scientists and policy makers pursue a goal of food security
Guarantee of adequate, reliable, and available food at any time
Making a food supply sustainable requires maintaining healthy soils, water, and biodiversity
Hunger has decreased from past figures, and is due to an increase ability to produce food.
More energy is used to produce food (fossil fuels/mechanization)
Planting and harvesting more frequently
Great use of irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides
Increase in cultivated land
GM productive crops and livestock
Although food production has outpaced the growth of the human population, the world’s soil is in decline and nearly all
arable land has been claimed

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5.1.2. UNDERNOURISHMENT, OVERNUTRITION, AND MALNUTRITION
People who suffer from undernourishment live in the developing world
In the developed world, people suffer from over-nutrition (too many calories/day)
Undernourishment is due to economic reasons
1/5 of the world population live on $1/day
More than half live on $2/day
Hunger problem is an issue in Canada where more than 750,000 people use the service of a food bank/month
More than 41% of children use the food bank
Food security is the function of five A’s
Availability
Affordability
Accessibility
Acceptability
Adequacy
Malnutrition is the shortage of nutrients the body needs
Malnourishment can cause disease
High starch diets do not have enough proteins or amino-acids
5.1.3. GREEN REVOLUTION = INCREASE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION
Desire for greater quantity and quality of food led to the green revolution
New methods were developed by agricultural scientists to increase crop yield per unit area
The transfer of the developing world lead to an increase in crop yield, drought resistant crops and disease resistance.
5.1.4. GREEN REVOLUTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS/HARM
Industrial agriculture promoted the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides and irrigation of crops with generous
amounts of water
The increased use of fossil fuels was used to power machinery (pollution)
From 1900-2000, the total cultivated area increased by 33%, but the energy inputs increase by 800%
Intensive agriculture in India saved millions of people from hunger and provides a source of income through exportation
The green revolution prevented deforestation and habitat conversion in many countries which is beneficial to biodiversity
and the natural ecosystem
The intensive use of fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides have a negative impact on the environment and has
cause areas to experience
Pollution, salinization, and desertification

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The development lead to an agricultural practice called monoculture agriculture
Single crop types are grown in fields
Planting and harvest is more efficient, which has increased output
Monocultures have reduced biodiversity, because fewer organisms live in monocultures
All plants are genetically similar and hence are susceptible to disease (rapid spread of disease)
Monocultures have narrowed the human diet (we consume 15 cop species and 8 livestock species)
5.1.5. BIOFUELS HAVE A LARGE IMAPCT ON FOOD AVAILABILITY
The green revolution brought about large outputs which are now being used to create biofuels
One particular biofuel is corn based ethanol which is mixed with gasoline
UN FAO has deemed the production of biofuels controversial and a “conflict of interest”, as growing demand for corn is
leading to higher prices and scarcity
5.2 PESTS & POLLINATORS
Insects, fungi, rodents and weeds eat or compete with crops and have taken advantage of the ways crops are planted in
clusters
These organisms decrease crop yield and make it harder for farmers to make a living
A pest is an organism that damages crops that are valuable to us
A weed is any plant that competes with our crops
There is nothing wrong about weeds and pests as they are organism who are trying to survive and reproduce
5.2.1. PESTICIDES
To prevent outbreaks and limit competition with weeds, human have developed various pesticides
Insecticides (kill insects)
Herbicides (kill plants)
Fungicides (kill fungus)
In Canada more than 7000 pesticides are used
500 of the active ingredients have not been tested for health and environmental impacts
150 of them were approved prior to 1960
New scheme, New Pest Control Act requires pesticides to be re-evaluated after 15 years of use
More than $32 billion is invested in the use of pesticides annually
$1.5 billion in Canada
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