Monday, December 20, 2010

Industrial Agriculture a moral issue?

The number of people occupying Earth has increasing dramatically, it is estimated that 4.17 babies are born every second. All these babies are in need of food to survive, and to keep up with this increased demand for food, industrial agriculture is being used at a high demand. Industrial agriculture is a modern farming method in which genetic technology is incorporated to produce large amounts of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops at cheap prices. You might think that industrial agriculture is doing a lot of good as it is able to maintain with the high demands of our increased population, yet the way in which they are doing so is not healthy, and in many ways morally wrong. As you go on to reading this blog remember the phrase “ Its not about the quantity but the quality”.

Positive effects of Industrial Agriculture:

reduction in many Asian countries including China. Higher agricultural productivity has not only helped millions climb out of poverty and provided cheap and abundant food, it has also freed up farm labor to propel industrial progress. For a country like China, tasked with the responsibility of feeding a fifth of the world's population with less than a 10th of the world's farmland, industrial agriculture is the simplest choice.

Negative effects of Industrial Agriculture:

As modern farming techniques were introduced , this established the bedrock of rapid economic growth, food security and poverty. Using Industrial agriculture techniques, destroys soil tilth  by the use of heavy machinery, which compacts the soil. Very little organic material is added to the soil thus decreasing the amount of nutrients that are naturally produced. Instead, inorganic nutrients are added directly to the soil in the form of synthetic fertilizers, which are manufactured from raw materials. These fertilizers are often applied at an excessive rate. As a result, they pass through the soil to contaminate groundwater and flow along the surface of soil to pollute surrounding bodies of water, threatening native species. In Industrial Agriculture, Livestock animals are generally kept together under extremely crowded and foul conditions. Because of this, they are highly susceptible to diseases and infections. In the United States animals with cancer are still deemed healthy to be slaughtered and served throughout the country. Conventional farmers rely on antibiotics, which are given not only when animals are sick but often on a continued basis in the animals' feed. Industrial farms, also called factory farms or CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) pollute the air in many ways, emitting foul odours, airborne particles, greenhouse gases, and numerous toxic chemicals.

*  the video you are about to see can be very disturbing but it shows the harsh reality on what is occuring to animals in CAFOs. There are choices you make everyday, and by eating meat through Industrial Agriculture you are making the choice to support such cruel behaviour *

what about our Biodiversity?:

Industrial Agriculture does provide us with cheap food that is produced in a short time period to reach our high demands thus being able to keep up with the growing population. Nevertheless  it is causing many problems that are leaving our environment polluted, while also reducing our biodiversity There are 80,000 species of edible plants known on Earth, but 90% of the world’s food comes from a mere 20 of these species. Edible plant species, both those we know of and those we don’t, offer a tremendous resource of possibilities that could greatly add to the security of our food. Biodiversity is the life support system of our planet. We depend on it for the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Wetlands filter pollutants from water, trees and plants reduce global warming by absorbing carbon, and bacteria and fungi break down organic material and fertilize the soil. It has been empirically shown that native species richness is linked to the health of ecosystems, as is the quality of life for humans. You have to ask yourself if cheap, efficient food is more important than our environment’s biodiversity?

Sustainable Agriculture:

There is another alterative to industrial farming that is increasing in popularity called, sustained agriculture which integrates three main goals: environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance. Stewardship of human resources includes consideration of social responsibilities such as working and living conditions of laborers, the needs of rural communities, and consumer health and safety both in the present and the future.

I hope this information has opened your eyes, to the food that you eat and how is got unto your plate. I believe that Sustainable Agriculture is the right way to go. Just like Industrial Agriculture it can still meet the needs of our growing population without sacrificing our environment and biodiversity. You can eat your food knowing that it is healthy and not raised in captivated, unsanitary areas, you will also be getting all the nutrients you need from naturally grown crops. Yet  for the transition to be made, we all need to make a choice. what will yours be?



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Designer Babies . . . The Future Generation

For those who have never heard of this term a “Designer Baby” is defined as "a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected through genetic engineering combined with  InVitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics. The way in which this process works is using InVitro fertilisation to fertilise an egg with sperm in test-tubes outside the mother’s body. This allows the parents to choose the sex of the child, its physical appearance, while holding the power to eliminate genetic diseases. This technique has spurred a lot of controversy.


Genetic screening can reduce the baby's chances of being born with several serious diseases like Down
Syndrome, Famial hypercholesterolemia, rare blood disorders such as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, and many more. Adam Nash was the world's first known designer baby born by the revolutionary pre-implantation process in the year 2000. Scientists genetically selected his embryo so that he would possess the right cells to save his dying sister's life. His sister suffered from Fanconi's anaemia which is a blood disorder, and the chances of Adam obtaining the disease were very high . Through  the process an embryo was chosen, which did not have Fanconi's anaemia. Adam became a donor to his sister, which doubled her chances of survival. As you can see through technique a life was saved. Nevertheless In January 2009, a British mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl having used this process to ensure her child did not inherit her breast cancer causing BRCA1 gene. This allowed someone once unable to conceive , have the miraculous ability to give birth to a healthy child.

Cons of Designer Babies:                                                    

This technique is not limited to screening for genetic and hereditary disorders, but is also used for cosmetic reasons. Dr Jeff Steinburg, Director of the Los Angeles Fertility Institute, who played a major role in the world's first test tube baby in 1978, states that by using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, parents can choose the gender, eye, skin and hair color of the baby. Various other traits such as intelligence, beauty, height, stopping a propensity towards obesity, freedom from mental illnesses, athletic ability, and so on.

The adoption of genetic engineering for cosmetic reasons and genetic enhancements has spearheaded a lot of controversies. Critics point out that if this technique became widely used the level of biodiversity in the human race will plummet, which can result in long term disasters.


In today‘s society, people who have genetic defects are already treated differently and cast out from society in several parts across the world. Designer babies, will lead to discrimination on the basis of certain qualities or traits. Whether you see “ Designer babies” as unethical  or a great technological advancement is your opinion. I believe it holds great benefits that can reduce genetic disorder and reduce future suffering if used appropriately.  


"What Is a Designer Baby?" Bionet - New Discoveries in Life Sciences - Explore the Science and Debate the Issues. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

Johnson, By Priya. "Pros and Cons of Designer Babies." Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

"Pre-Genetic Implantation Diagnosis Pros and Cons: Designer Babies Debate Caused by Birth of First
BRCA1 Screened Child." Online Magazine and Writers' Network. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.



By Priya. "Pros and Cons of Designer Babies." Intelligent Life on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

By, Park/New York, and Thompson/Washington. "Designer Babies - TIME." Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.,9171,989987,00.html.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy was formed in 1951

By a group of scientists whom wanted to save threatened natural areas around the world.

    The Nature Conservancy joins forces with governments, non-profit organizations, local stakeholders, indigenous communities, corporate partners, and international organizations to find solutions to conservation challenges. They are involved in protection of private lands, the creation of conservation-minded public policies, and the funding of conservation projects around the world. They have an interesting approach called the debt-for-nature swaps, which is a transaction which ensures biodiversity conservation with the exchange for debt that is owed by developing countries.

History of work and accomplishments : 

 In 1955, The Nature Conservancy bought it’s first pack of land, a 60-acre tract along the Mianus River Gorge which is around the boarder of New York and Connecticut. During the same year they established the Land Preservation Fund, which it still used today to help provide funding for worldwide conservation efforts.
 In 1961, a partnership between Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy which was formed to protect old-growth forests in California.  During the 1970s and 1980s. The Nature Conservancy setup key programs such as the Natural Heritage Network and the International conservation Program. The Natural Heritage Network collected information about species distributions and natural communities throughout the United States. While, the International Conservation Program identified key natural regions and conservation groups in Latin America. In 1988 The Conservancy completed their first dept-for-nature swap to fund conservation work in Brauli Carillo National Park. In the 1990s The Nature Conservancy introduced a large-scale project called the Last Great Place Alliance, an effort aimed to saving full ecosystems by protecting core reserves and establishing the buffer zones around them. In 2001-2005, they purchased land in Colorado which later formed the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, it also expanded the Rio Grande National Forest. Most recently, the Conservancy organized the protection of 161,000 acres of forest in the Adirondacks of New York. They also negotiated a debt-for-nature swap to protect tropical forest in Costa Rica.

    Humans can be a very invasive species, as we hold great power and are able impact an environment and the living things that reside there. Yet we cannot be blind sighted by the media as it only shows one side of the story, and the that is the negative effects that humans have caused, yet from research and proven facts there are many organization that are working to improve and restore the environment. I believe, through my research that there is a lot being done to improve the environment and to help maintain it for our future generations. The Nature Conservancy is a great organization that have been around for many years and helped restore and maintain land around the world, yet it is only one organization of many, therefore next time you see something in the media make sure to do your own research before building an opinion that might be one sighted.

other organizations supported by The Nature Conservancy:


"Plant A Billion Trees." Plant A Billion Trees - One Dollar at a Time - with The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

Klappenbach, By Laura. "The Nature Conservancy - Profile of The Nature Conservancy." Animals Wildlife - Animal Facts, Animal Pictures, Habitat Facts, Evolution and Zoology. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

"About The Nature Conservancy - Protecting Nature, Preserving Life." The Nature Conservancy - Protecting Nature, Preserving Life. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

"The Nature Conservancy | Planet Change." The Nature Conservancy | Take the Climate Change Pledge. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

"The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut - Show Us Your Connecticut!" The Nature Conservancy - Protecting Nature, Preserving Life. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

City, By. "Video: Conservation - Urban Environment and Green Space | ON Networks." ON Networks: Original Programming for Original People™ | ON Networks. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

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