chapter  3
24 Pages

Sustainability and Food Production and Consumption

Public concerns about environmental problems emerged and expanded rapidly in the 1960s, and modern agriculture was among the first domains that caused worries. This was not surprising, as producing food had many direct impacts on natural ecosystems and human health. In particular, the use of pesticides and other chemicals in farming drew public attention when the (unanticipated) long-term impact of the extensive use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) on birds was discovered by Rachel Carson and presented in her book, Silent Spring (1962). Over time, these concerns about the impacts of chemical use in agriculture were supplemented with others, such as animal welfare, food safety, energy use, landscape, climate change and biodiversity. Today, as a result of these issues, food production and consumption have evolved into a multifaceted sustainability concern. Impacts relate to the use of non-renewable (fossil fuels, phosphate) and renewable (solar and wind energy, water) resources and to the impact on the atmosphere and climate (GHG emissions), as well as to soil fertility and land and water management, (agro)biodiversity, pesticide use, waste disposal, economic practices and environmental policies.