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Koers

On-line version ISSN 0023-270X

Abstract

SIMONS, Petrus. How should agriculture produce enough food for the world?. Koers (Online) [online]. 2012, vol.77, n.2, pp. 1-8. ISSN 0023-270X.

From an agricultural point of view, the question if the earth can feed adequately not only its current population of 7 billion people, but also the expected population of 9 billion people to 10 billion people by 2050, is currently answered in two opposing ways. Some believe modern agriculture should increase productivity by implementing technological innovation and eliminating subsistence agriculture. Others believe industrialised agriculture is out of tune with the ecology and sufficient healthy food may be produced by an agriculture that recognises ecological and biological limits (known as ecological intensification). On the basis of a theoretical framework derived from reformational philosophy and in particular the concept of enkapsis, this article supports ecological intensification, especially if it forms part of a cultural development guided by Schuurman's metaphor of a garden-city. However, it is still a marginal activity within a culture directed by a belief in progress. High rates of economic growth, based on technological innovation, appears to validate such faith, but human and environmental costs are insufficiently acknowledged (metaphor: the earth is a machine). A break with technicism and economism becomes a pre-condition for feeding adequately both the present and the projected population of the world.

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