Abandon hope, all ye who enter here


There are somewhere between 50 million and 100 million farms in the world (if you exclude those smaller than about three American football fields). But about half the crops produced by those farms rely on the seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides supplied by a mere dozen or so companies. Most of those crops are bought, traded, and transported around the world by another half dozen. […] And when it’s time for agricultural products to be processed and distributed to stores, that’s another dozen or so, many overlapping with the aforementioned traders and suppliers. […]

Researchers and activists have questioned the safety or long-term consequences (or both) of various Big Ag [Big Agriculture] practices, such as the use of certain pesticides, fertilizers, animal hormones, and food additives. […] Among the other specific complaints these days are deforestation and negligence. In Brazil, for example, a tripling of soybean production since 1990 has been blamed for the ongoing stripping of the Amazon basin. In the United States, ill-managed factory farms and processing plants have contributed to repeated outbreaks of food-borne illnesses that kill about a thousand people a year and sicken millions. […]
For farmers, oligopolies mean fewer choices of supplier and sometimes no choice at all about whom they will sell to. One ongoing trend is contract farming, in which farmers grow according to a food company’s specifications, with all supplies provided by the company, in return for its commitment to purchase the farmers’ output if it is acceptable.

{ IEEE | Continue reading }

related { The world is approaching Peak Meat, producing 7 times more than in 1950 }

photo { Kyoko Hamada }