Related topics: food security

Unsustainable food systems: Can we reverse current trends?

As rural masses migrate to urban areas, populations grow, and people work toward better living standards, global food system sustainability is jeopardized, according to a new analysis spanning low- to high-income countries. ...

Plant protection: Communication instead of poison

Increasing drought and heat seriously affect plants. In the Upper Rhine area, for example, climate change results in the development of new plant diseases, an example being Esca, a disease that causes vines to die. Researchers ...

The young Brazilians fighting for the Amazon

Maria dreams of being the next Greta Thunberg. Kelita is studying in the first-ever university program in the Amazon. Fabio is helping his family do its part to fight climate change through sustainable agriculture.

The unlikely story of the green peafowl

We all know that habitat loss is pushing many species to the brink of extinction, with the conversion of forests for agricultural use a particular problem.

Worldwide urban expansion causing problems

As cities physically expanded worldwide between 1970 and 2010, the population in those cities became less dense, according to a study led by a Texas A&M university professor.

Research shows most bird feed contains troublesome weed seeds

Many millions of homeowners use feeders to attract birds. But a two-year study featured in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management suggests there may be one unintended consequence to this popular hobby. Bird feed ...

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Agriculture

Agriculture refers to the production of food and goods through farming and forestry. Agriculture was the key development that led to the rise of civilization, with the husbandry of domesticated animals and plants (i.e. crops) creating food surpluses that enabled the development of more densely populated and stratified societies. The study of agriculture is known as agricultural science (the related practice of gardening is studied in horticulture).

Agriculture encompasses a wide variety of specialties and techniques, including ways to expand the lands suitable for plant raising, by digging water-channels and other forms of irrigation. Cultivation of crops on arable land and the pastoral herding of livestock on rangeland remain at the foundation of agriculture. In the past century there has been increasing concern to identify and quantify various forms of agriculture. In the developed world the range usually extends between sustainable agriculture (e.g. permaculture or organic agriculture) and intensive farming (e.g. industrial agriculture).

Modern agronomy, plant breeding, pesticides and fertilizers, and technological improvements have sharply increased yields from cultivation, and at the same time have caused widespread ecological damage and negative human health effects.[citation needed] Selective breeding and modern practices in animal husbandry such as intensive pig farming (and similar practices applied to the chicken) have similarly increased the output of meat, but have raised concerns about animal cruelty and the health effects of the antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals commonly used in industrial meat production.[citation needed]

The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels, raw materials, pharmaceuticals and stimulants, and an assortment of ornamental or exotic panget products. In the 2000s, plants have been used to grow biofuels, biopharmaceuticals, bioplastics, and pharmaceuticals. Specific foods include cereals, vegetables, fruits, and meat. Fibers include cotton, wool, hemp, silk and flax. Raw materials include lumber and bamboo. Stimulants include tobacco, alcohol, opium, cocaine,and digitalis. Other useful materials are produced by plants, such as resins. Biofuels include methane from biomass, ethanol, and biodiesel. Cut flowers, nursery plants, tropical fish and birds for the pet trade are some of the ornamental products.

In 2007, about one third of the world's workers were employed in agriculture. However, the relative significance of farming has dropped steadily since the beginning of industrialization, and in 2003 – for the first time in history – the services sector overtook agriculture as the economic sector employing the most people worldwide. Despite the fact that agriculture employs over one-third of the world's population, agricultural production accounts for less than five percent of the gross world product (an aggregate of all gross domestic products).[dead link]

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