GM Crops and Organic Farming ORGANIC CROPS AND FARMING: Farming that GM FARMING AND CROPS: Genetically uses natural varieties and natural farming modified crops are crops that have their genes techniques. There is only very limited use of altered to improve quality and/or quantity fertlisers. Crops are all uniform in shape which Because the crops take longer to ripen may make storage and transport easier then they have better flavour. and/or appeal to customers. Limited fertilisers or pesticides are used The growing season is often shorter and so there is minimal run-off into rivers or can often be possible to have two or infiltration into groundwater stores. more crop seasons per year. ADVANTAGES There are also much less chemicals Crops maybe drought resistant so less they maybe consumed by customers. water is used in their production. Organic crops often get a higher price It maybe possible GM crops in areas when sold to consumers previously deemed unsuitable for farming. Native/natural species may die as a result because they cant compete with The crops are not uniform i.e. they the stronger GM crops. dont all look the same. Although this is The taste is often not as good because natural it may put off some customers. they have been grown quicker and The crops maybe susceptible to often grown for appearance rather than diseases.DISADVANTAGES taste. The crops may take longer to grow It can lead to the development of super increasing the growing season. weeds to compete with the stronger The crops may need more water to GM crops grow, No one knows the long term affects on humans Apart from organic farming, it is possible for farmers to be more environmentally sustainable by following a number of other practices including: Plant hedges to act as wind break and create habitats for animals Protect plant and animal species by building or protecting habitats e.g. leaving areas of woodland, meadow and lakes Putting aside part of their land to grow wild/natural species (the CAP now offers some funding for farmers who do this) Rotating crops and growing a greater variety of traditional native crops Allowing animals to graze outdoor, rather than live in cages (free range animals and eggs) Using traditional farming methods instead of relying on fertilisers and pesticides e.g. natural manure Introducing more fallow periods to allow soil to rest Open educational centres (city farms) Successes of Green Revolution Failures of Green Revolution HYV did increase food production and Large amounts of fertilisers and pesticides made countries like India more self- were needed that could then pollute water sufficient sources Food prices began to fall making them The HYV were more susceptible to disease
more affordable for the poor and drought More crops could be grown because More water had to be diverted to growing of the shorter growing seasons the crops The yields were more reliable Many poorer farmers could not afford to buy Different crops were grown adding the more expensive HYV seed variety to local diet Mechanisation has taken place leading to There were surpluses so crops could unemployment then be traded commercially Many natural varieties lost Many farmers became wealthier Countries and farmers became dependent of foreign companies for the supply of seed.Green Revolution: The introduction of modern western style farming techniques in LEDCs during thelate 1960s and 1970s.HYV: High yield varieties were developed to try and end food shortages by increasing yields. Highyield varieties were first developed by cross pollinating different varieties of rice. Increasingly this isbeing done through genetic modification.Labour Intensive: When work done is mainly done by humans and animals.Tenure: This means who owns the land. In many societies on someones death the land is passed tothe eldest son or divided amongst all the siblings (sons and possibly daughters). If the land is dividedit means the plots of land get smaller and smaller with each generation and become increasinglydifficult to farm effectively.There are a number of ways that subsistence farmers can try and increase their yields and makemoney. If they increase their yields they can support their families, but also possibly have extra tosell and earn an income.Use HYV or GM crops: These should increase the average yield, but the crops can be expensive tobuy. Also intensive farming may degrade the quality of the soil overtime.Buy more land: Not always possible but if a farmer has money (maybe a micro loan) then he couldtry and buy extra land.Land reform: Changing traditional practices of dividing land into smaller and smaller profits canensure that plots of land remain big enough to make farming sustainably.Use fertlisers and pesticides: Use fertilisers so it is possible to grow more intensively and usepesticides to stop plants being killed by infestations.Two crops: In some countries it is possible to grow two sets of crops each year (these might be thesame crops or different crops). Even if climatic conditions are favourable by changing some of theinputs like irrigation and drainage then it may become possible.Modern machinery: Using machinery might not always be possible of small plots of land, but itmaybe possible if neighbouring farmers are cooperating. Machinery should make farming moreefficient and may increase yields by ploughing better and harvesting quicker.Irrigation: By watering crops more frequently it maybe possible to grow crops over a longer season,grow for two seasons or farm land that was previously too arid.Cooperatives: By joining together with nearby farmers, farmers can share technology and possiblyeven land to try and increase production.Terracing: By terracing on hillsides farmers maybe able to increase the size of their land. Terracingcan also reduce the use of water.Some Solutions to Famine and Land Degradation
Crop Rotation and Fallow Periods: By using different crops and allowing the land to rest it gives nutrients and minerals chance to return to soil making it more fertile and hopefully increase yields over longer periods. Desalination: Taking water from the sea and removing the salt to make it good for drinking and agricultural uses. If more water is available it is then possible to water arid areas of land and hopefully increase crop production. Irrigation: This means watering the land. By irrigating more arid areas we should be able to increase agricultural output. Reforestation and afforestation: By foresting areas of land it can ensure that the nitrogen cycle (nutrients) is maintained, it can increase the stability and integrity of the soil and it can form a wind break from erosion and finally prevent flash floods. All these factors should improve the quality of the soil and hopefully crop yields. Fertlisers and Pesticides: Although overuse of fertilisers and pesticides can damage the soil and pollute nearby water courses, if they are used properly they should improve the amount of nutrients present in the soil. GM Crops: Some people believe GM crops could drastically reduce famine by increasing yields by allowing crops to grow more quickly, grow bigger, be more drought and disease resistant. Improved Distribution of Crops: It is argued that there is currently enough food to feed everyone but it is not distributed evenly. Governments, charities and organisations like the WFP (World Food Programme) can try and distribute food more evenly so no one goes hungry. Population Policies: By reducing population growth, especially in areas with low agricultural output, we should be able to reduce shortages of food and therefore famine.General Problems Caused By Drought and FamineLivestock deaths: When there is a shortage of water and food, animals are the first to go without, soanimals will start to die. This makes the famine even worse because there is less meat, eggs, milk,etc.Crop failure: Drought can cause crops to fail, but also when there is famine people often become tooweak to work on the land so less crops are grown and the famine worsens.Illness: When there is s shortage of food and water, people become weak from undernourishment(lack of food) and are more vulnerable to getting sick.Death: Severe drought and famine will eventually lead to death. It is usually the very old, young oralready sick that die first.Conflict: If the resources of food and water are declining, fighting over these resources is likely toincrease, especially between different tribes and countries.Loss of Education: When drought happens people have to travel further to find food and water.They also become sicker. Both of these factors can impact students and teachers. Who it affects itmeans that people are either unable to go to school or have no one to teach them once they are atschool.Loss of income: If people are unable to work they are unable to work and earn money. Also manycountries that suffer from famine have large primary sectors. Famine normally means that theprimary sector (farming) has collapsed and people have nothing to sell to make money.
2 Irrigation:Despite the monsoon rains the water supply can be quite inadequate for growing rice, especially if more than one crops is grown. Irrigation is a must for farmers.In the Ganges Valley there are: Wells: holes are dug to reach underground water supplies, the water is then lifted from the well using a shaduf or a waterwheel or by modern electric pumps– the water is then fed along open channels to the field; Inundation canals on the riverbanks, which fill up as the river floods and take the water to the fields. Terraces can be constructed on sloping land to allow gravity-fed irrigation and help prevent soil erosion. Terracing and gravity-fed irrigation3 Appropriate Technology:This technology is suited to the needs, skill, knowledge and wealth of people. Large expensive irrigation projects and dams have many disadvantages. Appropriate technology isneeded, for example, Individual wells with easy to maintain, simple pumps Renewable energy sources which use local resources, e.g. wind, solar, power, biogas Projects which use local labour rather than machinery No hi-tech machines needing expensive fuel and foreign spares Low cost schemes, which are sustainable.4 Soil Conservation:To stop the erosion of top soils, conservation schemes are needed: To build terraces on sloping land To plant cover crops and windbreaks Add manure and straw to soil.5 Land ReformThe aim of land reform is to: increase farm size for small landowners set an upper limit on the amount of land owned by the wealthiest landowners give surplus land to the landless farm labourers