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Industrial Agriculture vs. Health and Safety Issues

Free «Industrial Agriculture vs. Health and Safety Issues» Essay Sample

In the twentieth century, people faced the greatest growth of population in the history of the planet, and it caused some processes unknown earlier, such as an insane growth of industrialization, as well as development of science and infrastructure. As all citizens of modern cities need something to eat, the sphere of agriculture has become also industrialized. With the help of scientists, corporations found different ways of producing a larger amount of agricultural goods, making them more preferable for customers. These means usually include modifying products with the help of genetic experiments, the usage of chemical supplies, and others. Manufacturers try to convince that all these methods are safe, but many researches show the opposite. Therefore, the public should seek possible ways of solving this issue because modified products pose a threat to people’s health and bring risks.

When one comes to any supermarket, the first thing that he or she will notice is departments full of all kinds of fruits and vegetables of an ideal look and shape, almost flashing with the light. These are all tricks that manufacturers use to popularize their products, but what stands behind this is not so positive and rather disputable. An ideal look of apples, for example, is achieved by the usage of wax, but if to speak about ideal forms and taste of vegetables, a very serious problem arises, that is, genetic modification. Genetically modified plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance such desired traits as increased resistance to herbicides or improve the nutritional content (Whitman). The effects of GM products are still under discussion. They can cause allergic reactions, and many scientists believe that the next generations will feel all the “benefits” of such nutrition. They believe that modified genes of such products can badly influence human genes and cause mutations and illnesses of organs, brain, and the nervous system. Nowadays in the United States, more than 70% of food contains at least one genetically modified ingredient, usually the soybean (“All About Genetically Modified Foods”).

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Pesticides are also a very common problem of modern agriculture. These are special chemicals used to protect harvests from different pests; they can be aimed at different types of insects, mice, as well as microorganisms and viruses. When plants are treated with them, some chemicals leak through the ground and reach lower layers polluting water used by citizens that live nearby. Another aspect is that pesticides get directly into plants, which are eaten by animals or people and used in different products.

Talking about meat, the situation is not better, if not worse. Animals at farms are mostly fed with plants grown with the help of herbicides and pesticides mentioned above. Together with food, they get into meat and later directly into the human stomach. Very often, when farmers want animals to grow faster and bigger, they use hormones and antibiotics to reach these goals (Ghandi and Snedeker). First of all, this is violent towards animals as they grow weak, ill, mutated, and often die.


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Another product of fast industrialization of agriculture is the fast food industry. Most products used in fast foods are made at factories, and it means that their quality is doubtful. Most of them are high in fat, but what is worse is that they contain trans fats, which increase the level of cholesterol and are carcinogenic. In addition, most products contain a very high level of sugar and salt; thus, people are under the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.

The responsibility for control and regulation of these aspects lies on the government first of all. The United States Department of Agriculture sets standards and provides control of agricultural products. As a positive example, they have started a new policy against using the most dangerous E. coli in raw beef meet. Setting strict standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter will prevent about 25 000 cases of foodborne illnesses (“Food Safety”). In December 2012, the “test and hold” policy was adopted; according to it, products get through microbiological tests for safety. It is obligatory for meat, poultry, and egg products. During the period from 2007 to 2009, there were forty-four recalls of unsafe products. Inspections of farmlands and manufactures are also very productive and help in monitoring the situation. There is also a hotline; everyone can use it to find out any useful information concerning food and agricultural products and can report on violations. Only in 2013, there were 80 000 inquiries.

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There are also international environmental organizations, the competence of which is struggling for a better future of the planet and saving the life on it, including the mankind. Some of them include the WWF and Greenpeace. They notify and warn people of actual problems and create programs that help to solve them. Though right now the WWF has a list of thirteen global initiatives, most of them touch the problems of agriculture. Toxic pesticides, excess nutrients, and genetic erosion are among them. Greenpeace finds ecological farming the best solution for environmental problems connected with agriculture. The main features of such farming are biodiversity, organic pest control, and the usage of natural fertilizers. It is mostly used by small-scale farmers (there are 2.6 million of them all over the world). They grow healthy food, and even their incomes are higher. For example, in India, ecological farming helps to save from 600 to 6000 Rupees on the usage of chemical pesticides (“The Solution”). More and more people should become members of such organizations or at least help them. There are different ways of doing the latter: one can donate, share the information, volunteer, and of course “live green”. With the help of the Internet everyone can easily keep in touch with such organizations and participate in their programs. Without public’s support, all efforts will be useless.

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To conclude, it should be said that a high rate of the industrialization of agriculture leads to the situation when one can hardly find healthy food on the storages. The usage of pesticides, genetically modified products, antibiotics, dyes, and other chemicals in the industry have raised the number of lethal illnesses, which people get when use such products. Governments of all countries and different organizations are working up to solve these problems, but if each person does not try to do his or her best, all these efforts will be vain, and healthy and wealthy feature will be doubtful.

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