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Agricultural Sustainability and Globalization Paper 1-18-13

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An anthropological look at the politics of culture and hegemonic influences that have changed agriculture over time from a system that worked primarily with nature, to a post industrial system whose negative externalities impact both humans and the environment.
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  KENT STATE UNIVERSITY GEAUGA, FALL 2012, POLITICS OF CULTURE Agricultural Sustainability   A Historic Perspective of the Politics of Culture and effects of Modernity in Agriculture Susan Walker-Meere 12/12/2012 Abstract Walker-Meere, Susan, Kent State University, Geauga Campus. This paper explores effects of modernity and the politics of culture on the relationship between sustainability and agriculture. Sustainability refers to living in the present in a way that ensures future generations will have the means and resources to provide for themselves (Goffman 2005). The disparities between sustainable agriculture and agri-business point to the challenges that food production systems face in the arena of sustainability. Through analysis of agricultural methods from post-modern to modern times, issues of sustainability can be seen by negative impacts of agriculture, effecting local economies, communities and the environment.  2 Sustainability and Agricultural Sustainability Sitting in my hot apartment in New York City in the summer of 1984, I was reading a  book called The Survival of Civilization  by the scientist, John D. Hamaker (1982). His contention was that our planet is heading toward the end of the present inter-glacial period, back to glaciation by route of a greenhouse gas warming period. In the book he notes that the soils of the planet are being depleted of necessary nutrients, which decreases the health and vigorousness of plant life, making the total green mass on the planet less able to absorb carbon dioxide. He opines that human beings are exacerbating this natural process by adding more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, accelerating the beginning of the next glacial period by way of the greenhouse effect. My interest in this possibility was peaked. The planet, human being ’ s interactions with it, and ultimately global sustainability, became my focus from then on. Human kind ’s  ability to survive on this planet has become a hot button topic. Questioned is the possibility that future generations can be accommodated at the current level of First World growth. It is apparent to leaders across the globe (United 2012, Brown 1987) that principles of sustainability must be developed and implemented. Most notably, the developed nations who have the capital and infrastructure to accomplish such (United 2012b , need to take the lead. The term sustainability, was coined by the Bruntland Commission of Norway in 1987. It encompasses all aspects of human endeavors: ethics [society], the environment and economics. One sector that has a large impact in all three of these areas is modern agricultural food production. The methods used have changed, as human producer/consumer market constructions and societal needs have developed, from geographically isolated subsistence communities into globally functioning vertically integrated agri-businesses (Chiengkul 2012).  3 Sustainable agriculture uses the basics of traditional agriculture and is defined by Brown, et al. (1987) as ‚the ability of a system to maintain productivity i n spite of a major disturbance‛ . Furthermore, Manning (2004) clarifies the difference between sustainable agriculture and industrial agriculture in his book  Against the Grain . Sustainable agriculture he explains, is one which ‚can use chemicals, although it tries to limit them‛, and  , ‚. . .  [the proponents] believe in rotating crops, incorporating livestock into crop production, and integrating systems of managing pests, markets, and nutrient cycles [in a holistic way] .‛ Whereas he continues, ‚The antithesis is industrial ag.‛  Contemporary industrial agriculture, Kendall Thu (2009) suggests in his article, The Archaeology of Environmental Change  , does not considered the negative impacts and threats that such a model of food production has on global, regional, and community sustainability; or on planetary equilibrium and societal stability. He believes profits are the ultimate motivator of agri-businesses that use industrial agriculture, not the negative consequences of such choices on the environment and the social fabric of communities which those choices and their short-term goals create. It is, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (2012), a method of agriculture that is utilizes capital intensive inputs and mechanizations. In order to ‚recognize multiple voices‛ (Feinberg 1994 ), this paper will discuss the historic patterns of human involvement agriculture. Traditional agriculture describes human being ’ s methods of cultivation prior to the industrialization of agriculture, the later being the predominant agricultural system of the First World at the present time. Looking at each will offer an objective view of their respective strengths and weakness in light of developing a system that reflects the goals of sustainability. With a sensibility that looks at anthropology as it relates to activism (Messer 2004) , this paper will endeavor to  bring a voice to the issues created by industrial agricultural which are presently challenging our world. These will include human rights violations and environmental issues.  4 Of primary concerned will be the systems that are in place within the government  bodies which create the stories that allow, as Lindstrom (1995:202) suggests, authority to  be ‚captured‛  giving power to some, while others are suppressed. Additionally, this paper will note instances that reflect the consequence of modernity that have moved agri- business and industrial agriculture to global predominance. Change Happens  The movement from traditional type farming of the past which employed a closed-loop type system of inputs (Valdez 2012), to our present predominant paradigm of agriculture-as-an-industry, relying heavily on external inputs has been a dramatic shift. This shift warrants our attention and is the focus of this paper. Modern day food consumers in the developed nations are starting to notice the impacts of these changes: from food being sourced from local farms that are known in the community, to faceless farmers and mega-farms that look and act more like factories. These farms bear no resemblance to the traditional idea of the pastoral setting that distinguished the farm of the past (Hendrickson 1997; Rudy 2012 ). Traditional farms have moved from producing for the local and regional population to producing a surplus for markets both national and international. This changed, small scale farming into a profit-driven leviathan, as Thu (2009) states in The Centralization of Food Systems and Political Power  , ‚ allowing political control over the distribution of a basic resource to serve other interest, such as the accumulation of wealth‛ . Selling to consumers on a global scale is a game-changing paradigm for a necessity that is considered a human right, as the United Nations (2010) clearly states in its document ‚ The Right to Adequate Food ‛  , srcinating from the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. It contends also that food security is necessary for the stability of contemporary societies. This is an important aspect of sustainability.

South Korea II

Jul 23, 2017

South Korea

Jul 23, 2017
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