modern industrial farmingThe damage modern industrial farming does is not always obvious because people have short memories. Where there were once forests and prairie with all their complex web of plants and animals, there are now just huge areas of ploughed earth. Enormous machines damage the soils and open it to being blown or washed away by wind and rain. They sow seeds of identical plants which are regularly sprayed with poisons to kill insects and diseases. They scatter artificial fertilisers. The machines themselves pollute the air with smoke and fumes while the poisons and fertilisers soak down into the soil or run off into streams and rivers. This pollution affects drinking water (so that in many places it has to be purified before it's fit to drink) and the animals and plants that live in the rivers and lakes and even the sea. tractorThis type of farming works against Nature. It regards Nature as 'the enemy' to be poisoned, burnt, cut and smashed. It creates vast areas of 'monoculture desert' — without any life but the crop. Soil erosion is a serious problem which is caused by bad farming practices. The best known example was the 1930s Dust Bowl of the Great Plains of North America. More on soil erosion

Modern farming is on a collision course with nature. It's now right up there with global warming in the scale of damage it is doing. That's bad news for everyone.

Farming problems

I'm seriously worried about modern farmingNot good, is it?

Industrial farming is spoiling the soil and water it uses. It's seriously threatening world food supplies because it is the largest single threat to the earth’s biodiversity:

To be fair, this type of farming started with the best of intentions: to feed people cheaply. It's been very good at doing this in those countries which could afford it, but that was largely because nobody paid the full costs caused by the pollution and other damage such farming causes. What's more, most governments in rich countries like those in Europe and North America subsidise (give money to) their farmers to make their products artificially cheaper. This business of 'true costs' is all very complicated I'm afraid.

For more on the damage done by factory farming, click the pig image to visit the GRACE Factory Farm Project.