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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
English (U.K.)
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Impact of Globalization on Sustainable Agriculture (Essay Sample)


I was asked to evaluate the impact of globalization on sustainable agriculture


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Researchers are in agreement that the ongoing agents of globalisation, including trade liberalisation, international migration, rural-urban migration, technological innovations and global currency deregulation, have far reaching implications on sustainable development (van der Velde et al. 2007; Zimmerer 2007). However, there are conflicting views on whether globalisation has actually led to sustainable agricultural practices. The present paper evaluates the impact of globalisation on sustainable agriculture with the view to demonstrating that the emphasis on globalisation has continued to undermine the pursuit of sustainable agriculture due to the many environmental, social, and economic consequences.
Definition of Terms
Globalisation has been defined in the literature as “the increased global integration of internationally dispersed activities” (Zimmerer 2007, p. 10). Sustainability, on the other hand, will be used in this paper to refer to the promotion of agricultural practices that encourage growth while ensuring an ecologically sustainable and equitable world order (Olsson, Hourcade, & Kohler 2014).
Impact of Globalisation on Sustainable Agriculture
Research is consistent that globalisation has been positively associated with the implementation of innovative approaches to food production and resource use that are largely environmentally friendly and socially equitable (Zimmerer 2007). Here, it is important to note that new technological innovations and means of transportation, refrigeration, and preservation of perishable goods are making it easier to not only import and export food items across the globe, but also to minimise wastage (Murphy 2001). However, critics argue that globalisation has indeed encouraged unsustainable transportation of agricultural produce to international food markets, leading to increased air pollution, waste management issues, and elevated levels of energy consumption due to refrigeration and packaging (La Trobe & Acott 2000).
Additionally, increased market opportunities for agricultural produce have pushed farmers to diversify their food crops in an environmentally sustainable manner. The advocates of this perspective argue that the strict regulations followed by global and regional trade organisations are forcing farmers in developing countries to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, diversification, and intensification to not only gain entry into the international market (Murphy 2001), but also to achieve labour efficiency and sustain demand (Zimmerer 2007). However, La Trobe and Acott (2000, p. 309) argue that “agricultural intensification and the globalisation of the agrofood chain has resulted in adverse environmental, social and economic consequences impeding moves towards sustainability.” As demonstrated below, these consequences outweigh the benefits that can be achieved from globalisation.
First, it is evident that trade liberalisation under globalisation has occasioned a situation whereby farmers are increasingly intensifying, diversifying, and mechanising agriculture to enhance yields in order to sustain the international market. This orientation, according to Zimmerer (2007), is to blame for the persistent agricultural crises witnessed today and the propensity to move the societal structure from an agrarian mode to a capitalistic agricultural model through de-agrarianisation. Indeed, intensification and mechanisation of agriculture have been negatively associated with relentless agricultural crises, such as reductions in soil fertility and biodiversity, pests build up resistance, horrific animal rearing practices, health challenges associated with chemical application, and replacement of manual labour with machinery (La Trobe & Acott 2009). De-agrarianisation in most developing countries has been accused of reinforcing poverty and social strive as most of the alternative food items planted by farmers fail to fetch desired prices in international markets (van der Velde et al. 2007). As a result, farmers in these countries have been unable to educate their children and meet other basic needs.
It is also felt that globalisation is positively associated with the mounting susceptibility to climate change. Available literature demonstrates that “neoliberal policies display a preference for industrial scale technologically oriented agricultural investment over possibly more environmentally sustainable or peasant forms and a reliance on markets to deliver politically neutral resource allocation” (Burton & Peoples 2014, p. 90). Again, the problem of climate change is deeply rooted in the ongoing agricultural intensification and diversification as farmers in the developing world compete to meet demand in the international market. Farmers in the developed countries are not left behind, as witnessed by how market liberalisation policies in New Zealand affected the capacity of dryland sheep famers to manage drought (Burton & Peoples 2014). The conflict between globalisation-oriented agricultural practices and the environment means that it is difficult to achieve sustainability (Olsson, Hourcade, & Kohler 2014).
Another impact of globalisation relates to the unchecked extraction of resources to satisfy global markets, leading to degradation and other environmental challenges. Here, available literature demonstrates that “globalisation and neoliberal-led escalations have contributed to the widespread worsening and frequent occurrence of environmental problems” (Zimmerer 2007, p. 10). For example, most farmers in the developing world are taking advantage of weak environmental protection practices in...
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