Introduction: Farming the Garden of Eden
Environment and Development Economics, Forthcoming
Posted: 26 May 2011
Date Written: 2001
The second part of this special issue on agroindustrialization, development and the environment is a policy forum based on an article from The Economist news magazine on the current and prospective environmental pressures induced by changes in agricultural technology. Global demand for food and other agricultural products will inevitably grow considerably over the course of this century, due to growth in both population and incomes. At the same time, farming’s share of the economically active population will fall sharply, necessitating increased commercialization of agriculture so as to increase productivity to meet the growing demands of urban and non-agricultural rural consumers. Yet there is little room to expand agricultural production beyond lands currently cultivated or in pasture without incurring additional economic and environmental costs. Nor is there a great surplus of water with which to irrigate more crops. Meanwhile, current farming practices are leading to alarming rates of soils degradation and inorganic and organic water pollution.
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