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The End of Food?

The 18th century British author Jonathan Swift wrote that under the enclosure movement in Britain, „sheep eat men“. That’s because large landowners threw thousands of tenant farmers off their land to make way for raising sheep on an industrialized scale, in order to feed the textile mills of the new industrial age. Something of the same could be said of our current system of producing food. It was supposed to solve the problem of hunger in the world. The so-called „green revolution“, with its massive use of herbicides and pesticides, did usher in the era of cheap, abundant food. But Paul Roberts says that era is coming to an end. In his book, The End of Food, Roberts says the technologies meant to end hunger don’t fit the conditions in the very countries they were supposed to feed. Small farmers are squeezed off the land, their families go hungry, and suicide sweeps their ranks. Rich countries are vulnerable, too. In a globalized food system, plant diseases could wipe out major food crops like wheat, fish stocks are crashing, and antibiotic resistance threatens both our meat animals–and ourselves. Roberts says the global industrialized food system is overextended, under threat of disruptions and unsustainable.

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