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Biology LibreTexts

7: Food and Agriculture

  • Page ID
    • 7.1: Food Security
      Poverty—not food availability—is the major driver of food insecurity. Improvements in agricultural productivity are necessary to increase rural household incomes and access to available food but are insufficient to ensure food security. Evidence indicates that poverty reduction and food security do not necessarily move in tandem. The main problem is lack of economic (social and physical) access to food at national and household levels and inadequate nutrition (or hidden hunger).
    • 7.2: Soil Profiles and Processes
      The word “soil” has been defined differently by different scientific disciplines. In agriculture and horticulture, soil generally refers to the medium for plant growth, typically material within the upper meter or two. Soil consists predominantly of mineral matter, but also contains organic matter (humus) and living organisms. The pore spaces between mineral grains are filled with varying proportions of water and air.
    • 7.3: Soil-Plant Interactions
      Soil plays a key role in plant growth. Beneficial aspects to plants include providing physical support, water, heat, nutrients, and oxygen (Figure 1). Mineral nutrients from the soil can dissolve in water and then become available to plants. Although many aspects of soil are beneficial to plants, excessively high levels of trace metals (either naturally occurring or anthropogenically added) or applied herbicides can be toxic to some plants.
    • 7.4: Conventional Agriculture
      The prevailing agricultural system, variously called “conventional farming,” “modern agriculture,” or “industrial farming,” has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency. Food production worldwide has risen in the past 50 years; the World Bank estimates that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the recent increases in food production are the result of conventional agriculture rather than greater acreage under cultivation.
    • 7.5: Sustainable Agriculture
      Sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application,
    • 7.6: Pests and Pesticides
      Pests are organisms that occur where they are not wanted or that cause damage to crops or humans or other animals. Thus, the term “pest” is a highly subjective term. A pesticide is a term for any substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests.
    • 7.7: Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering
      The development of a new strain of crop is an example of agricultural biotechnology: a range of tools that include both traditional breeding techniques and more modern lab-based methods. Traditional methods date back thousands of years, whereas biotechnology uses the tools of genetic engineering developed over the last few decades. Genetic engineering is the name for the methods that scientists use to introduce new traits to an organism. This process results in genetically modified organisms.
    • 7.8: Chapter Resources
    • 7.S: Conventional and Sustainable Agriculture (Summary)