The social push toward sustainability has begun to create awareness among people to the way that they live. With the ability to apply to so many aspects of life, sustainability is truly the key to the future of mankind and to Earth in general as an inhabitable planet. With considerable attention being drawn to the concept of sustainability over the past decade, critiques of some of the most influential parts of our day-to-day lives have been put into question. Paul Roberts believes that the practices we have gone about to obtain a steady food supply thus far have been and continue to be unsustainable. In his book The End of Food, Roberts argues that the introduction of international food trading and genetically modified foods, or GMO’s as they are commonly referred to as, have been implemented into the food industry as a result of corporate interests. From an economic standpoint, the United States’ inability to reach an ideal food supply through domestic and natural resources has allowed corporations to more than successfully take advantage of this moneymaking opportunity. While using some profits to develop potentially revolutionary production methods through the use of technology, the current environmental, economic, and social impacts of the food industry’s supply chain are unsustainable to securing a steady food supply for future generations.
Today, nearly one quarter of the world’s land is in use for food production, almost the entire quarter that is suitable for cultivation (Hergel, 682). Until recently agricultural production has outpaced population growth, reduced hunger, and improved diets almost everywhere in the world. For the food industry, the depletion of arable land and a growing world population demand control of the sustainability of agricultural inputs to the industry. Yet, our ever-growing demand for resource intensive foods is adversely affecting the agro-ecological resource base, to the point of diminishing its productive capabilities. Domestic land is increasingly degraded, and its soils dwindling, due to intensive or unsustainable clearing, irrigation, the spreading of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, overgrazing and even the passage of heavy farming equipment. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the effects of climate change are going to accelerate the loss in land productivity by reducing yields by up to 25% in some areas (Hegerl, 683). While also having economic motivations, the depletion of arable land and our growing population have pressed the United States to be involved in the international food trade.
The interdependence on other countries to provide additional food to that being produced domestically has become substantial to the matter of feeding the national population. With the United States using nearly 70% of its grain crop to feed livestock (Moomaw, 19), the international food trade is in many ways a strategic scapegoat to the inevitable loss of natural resources and impracticality of single handedly producing enough food for the current and future population. While this interdependence provides variety to the diet of all nations involved, it becomes increasingly detrimental to the nations future food supply as time goes on. Roberts argument suggests that the dependence the United States has on other countries is unsustainable due to the uncertainty that these respected countries will continue to do business with the United States in the future. Imports and exports of products alike have been creating a great deal of debt for these countries, particularly the United States and countries in Asia, and have caused tension between countries that refuse to make food transactions. However, the international food trade creates problems in both the foreign and domestic realms. The international food trade poses threats to domestic farming because corporations choose to outsource to other countries, primarily for lower cost and in some cases simply because