Why is industrial agriculture unsustainable

The industrial agriculture system consumes fossil fuel, water, and topsoil at unsustainable rates. It contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation, including air and water pollution, soil depletion, diminishing biodiversity, and fish die-offs.


Is agriculture and food systems unsustainable?

Agriculture And Food Systems Unsustainable. A landmark scientific assessment commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has confirmed that agriculture is having a monumental impact on earth’s finite resources.

Is industrial agriculture doomed to fail in the future?

Even without pesticides, industrial agriculture is doomed to fail from extremely high rates of soil erosion and soil compaction at rates that far exceed losses in the past, since soil couldn’t wash or blow away as easily on small farms that grew many crops.

What is the unsustainable model of Agriculture?

Farmers have lost their autonomy over how food is produced, often being kept in the dark even about the ingredients in their animals’ feed [1] This is an unsustainable model of agriculture. Why does it matter? There is an immense governmental system that props up unsustainable agriculture and food production at the expense of our communities.

What are the reasons for the industrialization of Agriculture?

Industrial Agriculture 1 The Impacts of Industrial Agriculture. The rationale for the industrialization of agriculture was the need to ensure a cheap, safe food supply for a rapidly growing US and world population. 2 The Myth of “Efficiency”. … 3 Feeding the World. … 4 Policy to Support Sustainable Agriculture. …

What are the negatives of industrial agriculture?

Industrial farming is bad for the health of workers, eaters, and downstream neighbors. Here are some of its costly health impacts: Pesticide toxicity. Herbicides and insecticides commonly used in agriculture have been associated with both acute poisoning and long-term chronic illness.

What are the key sustainability issues around industrial agriculture?

According to some estimates, industrialized farming–which produces greenhouse gas emission, pollutes air and water, and destroys wildlife–costs the environment the equivalent of about US$3 trillion every year.

Is industrial agriculture sustainable?

Industrialized agriculture is highly concentrated and mechanized, relying on chemical inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and non-therapeutic antibiotics. However, sustainable agriculture, which uses methods that protect the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare, is gaining traction.

What are three major problems of industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture has led to several public health concerns such as antimicrobial resistance, impacts on occupational and community health, and transfer of zoonotic diseases to humans (Marshall & Levy, 2011).

Why are farmers losing autonomy?

Farmers have lost their autonomy over how food is produced, often being kept in the dark even about the ingredients in their animals’ feed [1] This is an unsustainable model of agriculture.

How does monoculture affect the soil?

Monoculture farming directly impairs the land, reducing the amount of water and nutrients the soil can retain, risking another Dust Bowl. [1] . Agriculture claims 80-90% of water use in the U.S., and has depleted groundwater in parts of the Great Plains by up to 30%. [1]

What to do if your community is threatened by factory farming?

If you or your community is threatened by factory farming, or trying to stop unsustainable agriculture from taking root in your community, contact CELDF and learn how to take action. You and your community have rights and CELDF is here to help you fight for them.

Why do agribusinesses use their rights?

Agribusiness corporations use their “rights” under the law to prevent us from rejecting the damage offered up by conventional, large scale farming operations and mandating the type of agriculture that feeds our communities.

Where was the first anti-corporate farm ownership ordinance passed?

In 2000, CELDF spearheaded the first anti-corporate farm ownership ordinance in Wells Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, which prohibits corporations from engaging in agriculture. Since then, we have assisted dozens of other communities to protect against unsustainable agriculture.

What is CELDF in agriculture?

CELDF is aiding communities who have decided the current system of unsustainable agriculture cannot preserve their land, their health, their income or their vision of a sustainable future.

How much of the world’s land was used for agriculture in 2007?

According to the study, 38% of the world’s total land area was used for agriculture in 2007 and agriculture is responsible for over 70% of global freshwater consumption. “The fact that the impacts of agricultural products came out so strongly in our report was quite surprising,” says Professor Edgar G. Hertwich.

Is agriculture unsustainable?

Agriculture And Food Systems Unsustainable. A landmark scientific assessment commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has confirmed that agriculture is having a monumental impact on earth’s finit e resources . According to the study, 38% of the world’s total land area was used for agriculture in 2007 …

What is the problem with industrial agriculture?

The Problem with Industrial Agriculture: Energy Intensive and Damaging to Social and Environmental Health. The mass industrialization of the US agricultural system can be traced back to policies promoted during the Nixon administration by USDA Secretary Earl Butz, encouraging farmers to “get big or get out.”.

How does industrialization affect agriculture?

Industrialization of the US agricultural system has resulted in increased chemical use, degradation of soils, poor animal welfare, and the death of the small family farm.

Why is monocropping important?

In fact, monocropping requires increased chemical use because vast swaths of the same plant are more susceptible to pests, and a lack of crop diversity deteriorates soil health.

What is the cause of the rise in superweeds?

The overuse of pesticides has led to a rise in resistant superweeds, requiring increased use of chemicals and dependency on more toxic varieties, such as 2,4-D and dicamba. This puts the health of farm workers, farm communities, wildlife, and waterways at risk.

Why did agriculture become industrialized?

The industrialization of agriculture began after World War II, as a way of addressing global hunger and making the food supply more efficient and safe. The global shift towards this model of farming in the last sixty years has come with many costs.

How is industrialized agriculture supported?

Industrialized agriculture is supported by taxpayer subsidies overtly by way of artificially low grain prices and tax breaks. Animal feed, a key element of industrialized agriculture, is made from corn and soybeans that are cheap for feed companies to purchase owing to government subsidies.

How do farmers raise their animals?

Sustainable farmers and ranchers raise their animals in ways that allow them to graze or forage, move outdoors freely and express natural behaviors, without the stress and illness common in factory farms known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). They focus their practices on diminishing as much as possible (if not eliminating) the pain and suffering that animals experience as they live (and are killed) through the production process. Pain relief is used for necessary procedures (like castration) and no unnecessary alterations, like horn removal or tail docking, are used. Concern for the experience of the animals extends through to the slaughtering process.

What is agricultural dumping?

Agricultural “dumping” – forcing poor countries to buy cheaply produced US grains at less than the cost of production – has destroyed farm economies around the world, including Latin America, leading to increased immigration as former farmers come to the US in search of work. 78.

Why is it important to buy sustainably produced food?

It is important to buy sustainably produced food, to demand a different kind of agricultural system. While food grown and raised sustainably is more expensive, we would like to see a structure of government incentives and supports that favors these production methods, making them more affordable.

How do sustainable farms work?

They instead grow a diversity of crops, raise animals primarily on pasture and use techniques such as crop rotation, cover cropping, beneficial insects and other non-synthetic methods of pest control and fertilization. These practices increase organic matter in the soil, sequester carbon and support biodiversity. Many sustainable farmers see farming as it fits into their local ecosystem, examining how they can support the complex natural interplay of plants, insects, predators and microorganisms on their farm so that the ecosystem will best ward off pests and disease from their crops.

Why are sustainable farms important?

Public Health. Without the use of hazardous chemical pesticides, sustainable farms are much safer and healthier for their farmers, workers and surrounding communities, and the food they produce is free of chemical residues.


Axelrod, S. J. “Health Problems in Industrialized Agriculture” School of Public Health. September 1949: 1172-1175. Print.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

What are some examples of unsustainable techniques used in modern agriculture?

Examples of unsustainable techniques used in modern agriculture. Using lots of chemicals. Not only are the majority of agricultural chemicals toxic to human health, they are also poisoning wildlife and pollinators, running off into water bodies, polluting land, rivers, and wetlands, and destroying important soil microbes …

Why is global corporate agribusiness driving small local producers out of business?

Global corporate agribusiness is driving small local producers out of business because small producers cannot compete with low commodity prices on a global market. Many farmers today struggle with poverty because of the pressure for low global commodity prices in a race to the bottom. Growing crops on every inch of land.

Why are we losing genetic diversity in crop plants?

Only growing a few varieties of crop plants. Because only a few varieties have been grown in commercial agriculture over the last 100 years or so, we are losing a lot of genetic diversity in our crop plants.

Is GMO harmful to the environment?

Growing and producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) GMO crops are not only detrimental to human health, they are detrimental to the environment. GMO crops have lead to a huge increase in the use of agricultural chemicals being applied to crops, and there have been cases of GMO crop contamination in non-GMO crop fields, …

What is the impact of manure on agriculture?

Run-off from manure also causes eutrophication and acidification of water sources and are overall worse from organic farms than conventional ones. And 39 per cent of agriculture’s total emissions in 2018 was in the form of methane from ruminant animals.

What does Prince Charles say about small scale farms?

Prince Charles recently wrote in the Guardian that small-scale family farms “must be a key part in any fair, inclusive, equitable and just transition to a sustainable future,” illustrated with a picture of some lambs in a field.

Is it bad to assume that all farms are environmentally damaging?

According to a study by the University of Exeter, “it would be just as dangerous to assume that all large farms are environmentally damaging as it would to assume that all small farms are environmentally beneficial. Ultimately, rather than privileging one set of farms structures over another, it is a question of maintaining a diversity …

Do smaller farms have more biodiversity?

Smaller farms also have “higher crop species richness” and that “non-crop biodiversity increases with decreasing farm size, with 77 per cent of studies finding that smaller farms have greater biodiversity at both farm and landscape scales.”. But small is not necessarily superior in all cases. According to a study by the University …

Does Ahisma slaughter cows?

For example, the UK’s Ahisma Dairy Foundation does not slaughter its cows, but bulls are castrated without anaesthetic. Other practices like artificial insemination may also still be used on small farms. And at the end of the day, most of these animals will still die by having their throats cut.

Is it better to farm small scale or intensive?

Small-scale farms are also often viewed as being better for the farmed animals. This may be the case compared to the conditions that animals are subjected to on intensive farms, but as long as they remain a commercial product their welfare will always be compromised to some extent. This needs to be pointed out again and again to counter …

Does livestock farming cause methane emissions?

Furthermore, this form of livestock farming does not address the methane emissions from grazing ruminants and causes a lot of other ‘collateral damage’, including the extirpation of predators and the displacement of native animals like elk. Small-scale farms are also often viewed as being better for the farmed animals.

Production, Consumption and Material Usage

The Meat

  • Most alarming however, is the inefficiency of our food production system, encouraged by diet preferences in developed countries especially, but increasingly worldwide. Even in comparison to industrial activities, which are heavily criticised for their impacts on the atmosphere and biosphere, “agricultural processes have an inherently low efficiency…

See more on ourworld.unu.edu

Life-Cycle Analysis

  • In determining its findings, the report team uses the DPSIR (Driving force – Pressure – State – Impact – Response) framework to take into account all aspects of environmental impacts. DPSIR measures ‘embedded’ environmental impacts, including “manufacture, use and end-of-life” impacts. This life-cycle analysis of the impacts of electric cars, for example, offers a more accur…

See more on ourworld.unu.edu

Growth Misunderstanding

  • One of the report’s fundamental aims is to “contribute to a better understanding of how to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation”. “We have established a clear connection of causation between environmental impacts and levels of wealth within countries. Wealthier people cause more environmental impacts — this is a consistent finding,” says Hertwi…

See more on ourworld.unu.edu

So, Where Do We Start?

  • With so many areas for change recommended in this report and in environmental policy discussions generally, where can policy makers and citizens start to make a change? This conundrum is duly acknowledged by UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UNEP Achim Steiner in the preface of the report: “Decision makers could be forgiven for not knowing w…

See more on ourworld.unu.edu

Leave a Comment