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The Benefits of Agriculture to Society

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 5/5/2010

The Agricultural Revolution is considered a significant milestone that launched civilization. Discover how agriculture benefits society and what makes agriculture such a breakthrough by exploring its impact on our lives.

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    Overview

    morgueFile Among all ancient human milestones (e.g. creation of fire, hunting, pottery-making, etc.), it was agriculture that ultimately paved the way for the establishment of civilization. The scientific planting of crops and farming of land necessitated groups of people - who once led nomadic lifestyles - to settle on permanent territories to constantly nurture the soil. Eventually, communities grew around these areas followed in due course by the formation of governments. It was during the Neolithic Period that our ancestors shifted from hunting and gathering, to food-production. Technically referring only to the production of soil-based food, agriculture now includes animal husbandry. What makes agriculture so beneficial to society and such an innovation, as opposed to the arbitrary gathering of wild plants, is the cycle of cultivation, harvesting and processing that is integrated with it.

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    Benefits of the Agricultural Revolution

    Examining how agriculture benefits society will allow us to better appreciate why agriculture is regarded as a cultural breakthrough. Fundamentally, agriculture ensured the availability and predictability of food. Humanity learned the value of self-sufficiency. No longer at the mercy of nature’s randomness, our ancestors realized that they had the knowledge and skill to control their own food supply.

    The formation of statehood is also one of the advancements brought about by the agricultural revolution. What were once primitive agricultural societies have evolved into complex states.

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    Benefits of Agricultural Modernization

    Now considered a vital industry and a significant economic sector by some countries, the system of agriculture has been updated to further enhance its beneficial capacities. For instance, crop rotation has allowed the production of a variety of yield, thereby reducing monotony in food consumption. Considering the rapid multiplication of the human population, technology was utilized to augment the scarcity of resources. This is demonstrated in the use of pesticides and fertilizers to increase the rate of harvest, and by subjecting animals to selective breeding to similarly enhanced meat production. Another favorable invention during this period is irrigation. Through ditches or streams, irrigation ensured the steady supply of water to parched lands during the dry season.

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    Improvements in Agriculture

    Our quest for an environmentally responsible consumerism has slowly broken ground by intense campaigning for an ecological awareness. Organic agriculture, prompted as a response to the extensive and injudicious use of synthetic fertilizer, is one example of the attempt to return to nature. Organic agriculture promotes free-roaming livestock, crop rotation and the use of biological insecticides and fertilizers. This practice, aside from improving the purity of water and preserving animal habitats, also purportedly reduces flooding, air pollution and global warming. The modern approach towards sustainable development also includes community-supported agriculture and integrated farming.

    Through biotechnology in the form of genetic engineering, the DNA of plants and animals can be mutated accordingly. Plants and animals subjected to this are traditionally known as “Genetically Modified Organisms" (GMOs). How agriculture benefits society, with the assistance of biotechnology, is seen in the following breakthroughs: crops being disease or drought-resistant; food being nutritionally enhanced, freshness of produce being prolonged, all resulting in our food ultimately tasting better.