Agriculture and Economics

It would seem that with the advent of fertilizers, pesticides and biotechnology, our ability to produce crops should be limitless. What chance do insects and plant diseases stand against mighty modern agricultural technology?

But, as discussed in the introduction, biological systems evolve. Insects and diseases evolve as new technologies are introduced. Variables change, because evolution is change over time through descent with modification. So in the fields of agriculture and economics, just as in medical science and conservation, history matters.

Grain harvest Red onions at market
The mass production of genetically-similar foods (like the grain being harvested here, and these red onions) makes our groceries inexpensive, but leaves them vulnerable to diseases and pests.

The case studies in this section focus on why farmers and policy makers need to understand how evolution affects the critical topic of the world’s food supply.

• Grain combine photo courtesy of USDA, photo by Gene Alexander.
• Onions in grocery store photo courtesy of USDA, photo by Ken Hammond.


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Monoculture and Irish Potato Famine