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13: Agriculture

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    • 13.1: Food Security
      Poverty—not food availability—is the major driver of food insecurity. In 2019, 8.9% of the world population were undernourished (lacked sufficient calories). Food security is dependent on availability, access, and utilization. Undernourishment, malnutrition (lack of essential vitamins and minerals), and obesity, all threaten global health.
    • 13.2: Industrial Agriculture
      Industrial agriculture employs heavy machinery, synthetic pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers. It relies on monocultures of high yield crop varieties. While industrial agriculture has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency, it has also caused serious ecological damage.
    • 13.3: 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.
    • 13.4: Soil Degradation
      Erosion, compaction, salinization, and desertification are interacting processes that degrade soil (lower its quality).
    • 13.5: Selective Breeding and Genetic Engineering
      The development of a new crop variety is an example of agricultural biotechnology: a range of tools that include both traditional breeding techniques and more modern lab-based methods. Traditional selective breeding dates back thousands of years, whereas biotechnology uses the tools of genetic engineering developed over the last few decades. Through genetic engineering, scientists can more quickly and directly alter an organisms DNA, producing a genetically modified organism (GMOs).
    • 13.6: Pollination and Seed Dispersal
      An estimated 90 percent of flowering plants depend on pollinators such as wasps, birds, bats, and bees, to reproduce. Plants and their pollinators are increasingly threatened around the world. Pollination is critical to most major crops and virtually impossible to replace. For instance, imagine how costly fruit would be (and how little would be available) if its natural pollinators no longer existed and each developing flower had to be fertilized by hand.
    • 13.7: Sustainable Agriculture
      Sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that can be continued indefinitely because they do not degrade the environment or deplete natural resources. It incorporates integrated pest management and sustainable methods for promoting soil fertility. Organic agriculture abstains from using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, hormones, and antibiotics. Consumer choices can promote sustainable agriculture.

    13: Agriculture is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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