Posted: March 23rd, 2023
Agricultural corporations play a significant role in providing food security in the United States. Over the years, these organizations have managed to meet the growing demand for various products in the country. However, multiple concerns are evident concerning the way agricultural firms operate. According to some stakeholders, manufacturers have contributed profoundly to the climate crises across the nation. Although many food corporations are responsible for soil erosion, air pollution, water contamination, and health problems, such challenges can be minimized if agricultural firms adopt renewable energy sources and embrace organic farming.
The way firms manufacture and process food have an immediate adverse effect on the earth’s topsoil. Just like other production companies, food corporations require raw materials from the environment. Therefore, trees and other naturally occurring plants are cleared to provide space for farming. According to Baker (2019), the act of deforestation drains the soil, leaving the land exposed to strong winds, which blow away all the fertile topsoil and lead to desertification. An example of such occurrences was dust storms experienced in the nation in the 1930s, which Baker (2019) described as a human-made disaster. Although the United States comprises 5% of the world’s population, the country utilizes 30% of the world’s resources (Leonard, n.d.). The data indicate that the state’s businesses over-utilize the existing raw materials, including agrarian land. As the nation’s food demand grows, so does the pressure exerted on the natural environment, a practice that leads to the destruction of the earth’s upper layer.
The manufacturing process also leads to air pollution. The top sectors contributing to global warming are transportation, electricity, industrial goods, services, and agriculture (Atkin, 2019). While agriculture ranks fourth, it poses a significant threat to the environment because consumers’ food purchasing habits, including the demand for red meat and dairy products, cannot be subject to government control. Unfortunately, the production method for such foodstuffs requires tons of energy, which contributes to the emissions of greenhouse gases. In his report, Pollan (2016) mentions that fossil fuel used in agricultural chemical fertilizer and food shipping around the world accounts for about a third of all production from other activities. The use of non-renewable energy in the food corporations adversely affects the atmosphere, which may cause further climate changes in the future if necessary measures are not taken.
The threats that food corporations pose to waterways cannot be overlooked either. Approximately 40% of the United States watercourses have become undrinkable in the present years due to the huge amounts of toxins that manufacturers dispose of in them (Leonard, n.d.). In addition, production companies in the country emit approximately 4 million pounds of pollutants into the environment (Leonard, n.d.). While much of the impurities are released into the atmosphere, a considerable amount finds its way into the water bodies. Unfortunately, a large percentage of these ventures address the issue from a one-point perspective, that is, they mainly recognize the adversities that limited resources have on their operations rather than the environmental problems associated with their activities. For instance, Disney argued that the rising temperatures in the nation would negatively impact customers’ experience and the firm’s ability to attract and retain visitors (Flavelle, 2019). As long as such firms fail to address the issue of global warming in a multifaceted approach, water pollution will remain an environmental crisis in the United States and other parts of the globe.
Apart from damaging the natural environment, food corporations also operate in a manner that affects our health. A large portion of food in the United States is made with chemicals that are yet to meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards (Enders & Morris, 2019). Besides, food-producing livestock is injected with drugs that allegedly cause antibiotic resistance among human beings (Enders & Morris, 2019). Regrettably, most of these products, including supplies that contain several additives and untested chemicals, find their way into the market. The broken food system is responsible for the rising health problems that are linked to nutrition, such as Type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity, and heart disease (Pollan, 2016). Unfortunately, most U.S. citizens still purchase compromised goods due to a lack of knowledge and reluctance from the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take necessary measures against production firms (Enders & Morris, 2019). As long as stringent regulatory frameworks are not introduced into the system, the U.S. population will succumb to food-related health problems.
To prevent some of the adversities that the food system imposes on the natural environment, citizens can consider sustainable ways of farming. An example is an organic practice, which Michelle Obama proposed during Obama’s reign. Organic gardening involves using fertilizers with compost and beneficial insects rather than chemicals (Pollan, 2016). The practice is a safe agri-business method that can minimize soil erosion and reduce environmental pollution. The natural methods of farming can help retain soil fertility, thus providing a prolific ground for the future growth of plants and the rearing of animals.
Furthermore, food corporations can adopt alternative methods of manufacturing that are compatible with a sustainable natural environment. Most companies, including food manufacturers, use coal, petroleum, and natural gas in production. Overreliance on non-renewable energy may exert pressure on the existing natural resources because fossil fuels cannot be replenished. In addition, over-extraction can lead to the destruction of the surroundings as more land used in mining would be left bare. As suggested by Baker (2019), firms should consider investing in renewable energy to facilitate their activities. For instance, geothermal and wind sources can be used to generate the energy required to drive some industrial machines. Renewable energy is environmentally friendly and emits fewer toxic substances than fossil fuels. Notably, naturally occurring energy sources can be replenished for progressive use.
Due to the growing concerns over climate change, policymakers have developed broad-based policies, such as Green New Deal, to introduce reforms that will help secure a sustainable future. The initiative enhances the New Deal, which was introduced during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s regime (Baker, 2019). The program aims to protect laborers’ rights and combat environmental pollution (Baker, 2019). Despite the policy being an ideal way of curbing the climate crises in the country, the program has raised a lot of controversies among the people.
Based on the ongoing debates over the Green New Deal, U.S. citizens may not support the ideas embodied in it. For instance, Terry O’Sullivan, the labor leader, described the policy as “a fantasy manifesto that threatens to destroy workers’ livelihoods and increase divisions and inequality” (Baker, 2019, para. 61). Surprisingly, this perspective contradicts the initial goals of the initiative, which was to guarantee jobs for all people living in the United States (Baker, 2019). As predicted by O’Sullivan, the deal will lose the support of workers with impractical and unrealizable objectives (Baker, 2019). In the face of such controversy, people are more likely to oppose the Green New Deal in fear of losing their sources of income.
In addition, the U.S. population might dismiss the policy based on the notion that most of the leaders are against it. For instance, when Senator Dianne Feinstein was confronted with the question of the Green New Deal, she stated that there was neither a way to pay for the initiative nor the probability to reverse climate change in ten years (Baker, 2019). Other legislators, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also believe Americans know very little about the resolution (Baker, 2019). Besides, attempts by Michelle Obama to foster a culture of organic agriculture were highly criticized by the American Council on Science and Health group, which believed that the practice would lead to famine (Pollan, 2016). The policy lacks key stakeholders’ support, and myopic perspectives may influence the Americans to reject the deal.
Food corporations in the United States are partially responsible for the degradation of the natural environment and the rising diet-related health problems. The firms exert pressure on the land’s topsoil and release industrial pollutants in the air and waterways. To curb these adversities, agricultural companies should embrace organic farming and utilize renewable energy sources in all their activities. The Green New Deal is also an ideal solution for the climate crisis. Unfortunately, U.S. citizens may not support the policy because of the negative influence of dissenting leaders who risk losing their jobs.
Atkin, E. (2019, June 12). Climate change is the symptom, consumer culture is the disease. The New Republic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/154147/climate-change-symptom-consumer-culture-disease
Baker, K. (2019, October 7). Where our new world begins. Harpers. Retrieved from https://harpers.org/archive/2019/05/where-our-new%E2%80%A8-world-begins-green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/
Enders, C., & Morris, S. (2019, May 29). What banned substances might be hiding in your groceries? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2019/may/29/chemical-checkout-what-might-be-hiding-in-your-groceries
Flavelle, C. (2019, January 22). Corporate America is getting ready to monetize climate change. Bloomberg. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-01-22/muggy-disney-parks-downed-at-t-towers-firms-tally-climate-risk?__twitter_impression=true
Leonard, A. (N.d.). Facts from the story of stuff project. Retrieved from http://storyofstuff.org//wp-content/uploads/movies/scripts/StoryofStuff_FactSheet.pdf
Pollan, M. (2016, October 5). Big food strikes back: Why did the Obamas fail to take on corporate agriculture? New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/magazine/obama-administration-big-food-policy.html
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