Monday, January 10, 2011

Feeding a Growing Population vs Conserving Biodiversity

Every time I step inside a grocery store, the question that I always wondered was where did this food come from? The obvious answer that I would receive is from farms or factories. These places have been providing the community with different food resources. Though this is true, with our growing population it seems hard for the agricultural industry to keep up.

Productive livestock and crops could be seen to some people as the "best of the best" but if you rely on a few highly productive livestock and crop varieties there would be a lesser chance of genetic diversity. To reduce the genetic diversity of less productive breeds to become extinct could pose problems to the health of the breeds. The obvious benefit of highly productive breeds is that we would be able to distribute more food products. We are clear of these benefits but that doesn't mean we should reduce genetic diversity.

Although highly productive breeds may produce numerous amounts of crops, there still might cause some problems. Biodiversity allows species to mate with other species allowing the transfer of genetics. Imagine if the highly productive livestock and crop varieties carried a recessive gene for a type of disease and the less productive breeds carried the gene that reduces the risk of getting that disease. If the genetic diversity of the less productive breeds were to become extinct the highly productive breeds are sure to suffer.

"Maintaining genetic diversity within species is important for maintaining yield stability and crop ability to adapt to ever-changing environmental challenges and diseases." (1)

This topic is relatable to sustainable agriculture and industrial agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is a way of farming that tries to create products that is healthy for everyone.Some farmers stay away from things like pesticides, biotechnology, and mechanization. Instead they use different manners, for example like growing products organically. Industrial agriculture is the term used to describe factory-made livestock and crops. Most food products now-a-days are made by using industrial agriculture. This type of agriculture has made food plentiful and cheap but has caused problems to the community like erosion, deforestation and contamination.

Industrial Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture

It is clear what our choices are:

  • several food products for a cheaper price but leaving us with the consequences that deal with the environment. OR
  • buy products that are healthy and doesn't harm the earth but costs more in terms of prices
With the rapid increase of the global human population it seems hard for the agricultural industry to keep up. If they continue to use industrial agricultural they would be able to make food for the growing population but at what cost? There would be a loss of biodiversity and as discussed earlier it is hurting the environment. In my opinion, the benefits on a few highly productive breeds do not outweigh the risks of reducing genetic diversity. Most of us would agree that genetic diversity is healthy.


1. Industrial Agriculture
2. Importance of Diversity
3. Sustainable Agriculture
4. Agriculture Today
5. Impotance of genetic Diversity in Livestock


Erica's Blog
Dora's Blog


  1. I agree with what you are talking about, Harriet! I also think that it is better off to pay a higher monetary price than it is to pay a lesser cost, which would be hurting the environment as well as the biodiversity. I will definitely start looking into organic food sources when I go into my next Wal-Mart supercenter.

  2. I have mixed feelings with the general topic but you do make a fair point. It seems better for the people who are in charge with the world's agriculture to maintain biodiversity than produce a single type of breed, thus making other breeds extinct.

  3. Hey Harriet! Nice blog. I've always question the same way every time I go grocery shopping with my parents. Like, I always ask myself where did all these food come from. But the answer I always get is "factory." But all foods does come from factories and farm. I think that the effect of biosolids that have on the environment is very uncertain, but the possibility of leaching into groundwater is also a problem of landfills. If care is taken to ensure the safety of the groundwater, biosolids are a great way to fertilize crops in an eco-friendly manner just like how your sustainable agriculture picture is looking.

  4. I agree, I don't think that the harmful chemicals is worth the trouble. There's so many things wrong with industrial agriculture. I wouldn't mind paying an extra couple bucks to ensure the safety of my family. I don't trust the use of pesticides and chemicals. I think that when it comes down to the population becoming too big, there will eventually be more farms.