Blog Prompt- The Mechanization of Agriculture
The sharp rise in global population coupled with the rapid advancement in biotechnology has made the mechanization of agriculture commonplace in many areas of the world. While the factory farming industry has greatly expanded food production, it continues to present a severe threat to the biodiversity and natural order of our ecosystems. As Wendell Barry explains, resource depletion and ecological damage stem from the poor solutions that often characterize commercial agriculture. Instead of creating agricultural solutions that consider the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem and act within the set boundaries of that ecosystem, commercial farmers often seek solutions that will allow them to reap the greatest economic benefit. Solutions such as these are extremely hazardous as they tend to compound rather than solve existing problems such as land erosion and water contamination.
It is becoming apparent that factory farming could potentially result in an ecological catastrophe. This is largely due to the fact that the industry continues to expand at a rate which makes regulation increasingly difficult. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed legislation requiring that farms have permits which regulate feedlot pollution, however their efforts proved unsuccessful. In the end it became clear that, “The growth of the farming industry, and its courtroom tenacity, had far outstripped the E.P.A.’s efforts to restrict runoff from manure lagoons and feedlots”(NY Times). Even with the variety of natural growing methods available, many farmers still opt to practice forms of agriculture that attempt to control the land rather than “co-evolving” with it (Natural News). After considering these issues, we should reflect on how they will impact us in the long term. Do you believe that given our current dependence on biotechnology, we will still be able to adopt Leopold’s “Land Ethic” in which we “change our role from conqueror of the land community to plain member of it?” If so, what steps do you think should be taken in order to successfully adopt this way of sustainable living and farming?