It’s 2008, and feeding ourselves has never been easier. We take for granted a supply of every agricultural commodity on the planet, 365 days a year. Food is cheap. Never in living memory have we spent less on it as a proportion of our total expenditure. Even our poorest citizens can afford the luxury foods of yesteryear, like salmon and chicken.
As water shortages, and water prices, rocket farmers are leaving fields fallow to sell the irrigation water to cities where it is illegal for restaurants to give customers water unless they ask for it.
As the bluetongue virus sinks its teeth into British livestock, there is one appalling certainty: like the outbreaks of Mad Cow Disease and foot-and-mouth before it, some farmers will see no way out, and take their own lives. Farmers in Britain are the profession second most likely to commit suicide (after, bizarrely, dentistry).
Two critical markets are pursuing a stressed planet’s renewable resources, presenting policymakers with complex and difficult choices. The Worldwatch Institute’s latest look at Earth’s “vital signs” sees dangerous times ahead as the “sustainability crisis” unfolds. China Dialogue's Maryann Bird investigates
In August 2006, German chemicals company BASF applied to start GM potato field trials
in Cambridge and Derbyshire as early as next spring. The GM industry is making many
claims about this product, but are these based on the truth? Andy Rees investigates
By radically changing the way we acquire our food, the development of agriculture has condemned us to live worse than ever before. Not only that, agriculture has led to the first significant instances of large-scale war, inequality, poverty, crime, famine and human induced climate change and mass extinction.
By Clive W. Dennis (winner of the Ecologist/Coady International Institute 2006 Essay Competition)