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The Relationships Between Human Health and Agriculture

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The Relationships Between Human Health and Agriculture Spedding (1988) defines agriculture as "an activity (of Man), carried out primarily to produce food and fibre (and fuel, as well as many other materials) by the deliberate and controlled use of (mainly terrestrial) plants and animals"1. Inherent in this definition is the importance of agriculture and its impact on the lives of virtually all human beings around the world. Through their ability to control and cultivate whole biological systems for their own purposes and survival, agriculture can be regarded as one of the most revolutionary and distinguishing aspects of mankind. In this way, it is also directly linked to human welfare, and one can explore the way advances in the two domains affect one another, building up to an almost symbiotic relationship between human health and agriculture. Even with a cursory thought, there is a significant link between agriculture and human health. Raeburn insists that the main contribution to human welfare is food, and that mankind depends on almost all supplies on agriculture2. Indeed, humans as heterotrophic organisms are dependent on the intake and digestion of organic substances as a source of energy, required for maintaining basic metabolic activities as well as providing chemical energy. ...read more.


The physical and social well being of humans is affected by agriculture both at the consumer level, as well as that of the farmers themselves. Farmers and their families face numerous risks working at the farm, such as zoonoses, overexposure to chemical substances, hearing loss, as well as dangers on the farm. Consumers on the other hand, face more indirect risks of chemical residues and quality of food produced. Farmers may be exposed to zoonoses, diseases transferable from animals to humans. These diseases have captured society's attention often over the course of the past few years, mostly due to notorious examples such as the human variant of BSE (bovine spongioform encephalopathy), the Creutzfield-Jacob disease, even though in the period of 1981-85 they contributed to only 4% of all fatal accidents in agriculture8. Examples also include Farmer's Lung, a respiratory condition caused by inhalation of fungal spores from mouldy feed or litter, responsible for an allergic reaction in the alveoli and breathing difficulties. Other dangers of normal farm labour include risks of physical injury when working with complicated equipment, like tractors. In 1981-85, about 30% of fatal accidents in agriculture were caused by self-propelled machines, and a further 13% by other field machines9. ...read more.


Thus, we can say that the impact of agriculture on human health is significant. The varied, and often direct relationships that exist between agriculture and our welfare demonstrate to what extent it is present in different areas our everyday lives. Each and every human being on the planet is somehow affected by agriculture, for its main contribution is food, indispensable for our health and survival (not to forget other important raw materials). Through the evolution of cultivating land into a wholly organized form of profit-making business, the 20th century has seen the development of agribusiness. We can even consider the relationship between human health and agriculture as being a symbiotic one, where human health works as a guiding force of agricultural innovations, while problems encountered with certain agricultural techniques, methods, and products result in a continuous quest for new solutions to improve the state of human health and agriculture overall. Albeit much progress into human welfare and how to further increase it through output of improved food materials, numerous controversies still exist as to whether too much importance is being attributed to purely human interests, in the place of more global and environmental ones. Humans must find a compromise between their own welfare interests and those of animal welfare and environmental problems if the expansion and popularity of agricultural innovations is to continue in the future. ...read more.

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