Plant Diseases  
  Live Stock  
Overview of problem

The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry rapidly led to the evolution of vast networks of densely populated, complex civilizations, characterized by the expression of written language and art. As the result, humans now occupy most of the land surfaces of the planet, and wherever they settled domesticated and grew native plants, and tamed a few species of native animals to serve their needs. Cuisines arose, helping to define us culturally. Yet, despite all of the positive things that came about as the result of being able to produce a constant, reliable source of nutrition, current world agricultural practices are associated with a variety of health risks ranging from trauma and sepsis, envenomnation from an astounding collection of noxious arthropods and reptiles, numerous water-borne and vector-borne infectious diseases, and carcinogenesis related to long-term exposure to agrochemicals. Moreover, routinely ingesting contaminated foodstuffs also carries with it its own set of health risks. This portion of the web site will explore most of these topics using clear examples. Furthermore, agricultural runoff (the single most abundant source of pollution, by far) and its damaging effects on the life of freshwater and brackish water ecosystems is well-documented, limiting the productivity of areas that at one time provided food from rich harvests of fish and shellfish. The Chesapeake Bay is a good example of the deleterious effects that encroachment and agricultural pollutants can have on those sensitive estuarian ecotones. Attenuated agro-food chains, in contrast to food webs and food chains of natural systems, will illustrate why farming should not be considered as an “agro-ecosystem.” From a human perspective, the continually increasing loss of ecosystem services caused by deforestation to make room for monocultures such as corn, wheat, and other grains carries with it a different set of long-term health risks that are only now being considered by both ecologists and agronomists, alike. Desertification of many regions of the world occurred early on in our agronomic history, and continues unabated to this day. It is impossible not to conclude from an ecological perspective that we are going to have to find other ways of producing the calories we need without further culling of complex terrestrial biomes. Failure to do so carries with it a heavy burden for all the life forms on earth, not just us. Laying aside more and more land for food production as our population continues its upward spiral may result in the elimination of many essential ecosystem services. Ecological collapse is an unacceptable outcome, to be avoided at all costs. Our inventive and creative nature got us this far, and undoubtedly will, in the long run, allow us to get back to a more balanced lifestyle; a lifestyle more compatible with the organisms that make our own lives possible. This is the desired outcome of behaving in an ecologically responsible fashion.


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