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  1. Agriculture, the Fast Food Nation(s), and Genetically Modified Organisms BIOL 2041

  2. Outline • Fast Food • Fries • Big Macs • Chicken Nuggets • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) • Risks and benefits • Types • New Areas BIOL 2041

  3. Fast Food Nation • The Jungle - Upton Sinclair (1906) • Super Size Me • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser • More money on fast food than higher education • How has fast food changed agriculture?? BIOL 2041

  4. French Fries • The potato: a brief history • Became popular in the 1920s in NA • Important to the early success of McDonalds • Potato and NA/European diet • $0.30 -> $$6.00 (Profit!!!!) • Of $1.50 worth of fries, $0.02 goes to farmer->corporate farms BIOL 2041

  5. Impact • Fast food needs • Uniformity “One world, one taste” • Constant supply • Increased productivity (Idaho) • Tonnage of potatoes (doubled) • Yield/acre (increased 30%) • Increased inputs, I.e. mechanization, fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides • Need for larger farms and less farmers BIOL 2041

  6. Big Macs and you • Cattle • Soil compaction • Overgrazing • Erosion • Loss of biodiversity • BSE? BIOL 2041

  7. Big Macs and you • Feedlots, • Aesthetics • Runoff • slaughter houses and meatpacking • Then: A respectable, well-paying union job • Enter the “disassembly line” • Now: A job for illegal, illiterate, immigrants • Very dangerous BIOL 2041

  8. The Chicken Nugget • History • Health – very poor choice • “Bulk agricultural commodity into a manufactured, value-added product” • Business • Ensure constant supply • Tyson Foods • Chickens BIOL 2041

  9. Genetically Modified Organisms Food supply • 15 crop species and 8 livestock species = 90% of world’s food supply • Artificial Selection • What is a GMO? • Reduced breeding cycles • New and improved agricultural varieties BIOL 2041

  10. Pest control • Insect control • Bacillus thruringiensis (Bt) • Gene for Bt toxin introduced to plants • Benefits: Decreased pesticide use • Costs: Resistance? BIOL 2041

  11. Weed control and herbicide resistance • 275 million kg of herbicide/year in US • Damage crops and increase pests/pathogens • Herbicide resistant crops • Heavy use of herbicide • Less use: the timing must be right • Rapid break down of pesticide • Transfer genes to wild species = super weed BIOL 2041

  12. New areas • Pest control • 2000 plants have insecticidal properties • 700 substances in bacteria and fungi have fungicidal properties • What about super bugs?? • Disease resistance (less fungicides) • Vaccines for livestock • Drought resistance • 5 million l of water for 1 ha of corn BIOL 2041

  13. New Areas (cont) • Salt tolerance • Nitrogen fixation in crops • Perennial grain crops • Improve recycling of toxic wastes • Improved palatability of fruits BIOL 2041

  14. Questionable areas • Bovine Growth Hormone • Native organisms • Crops to weeds? BIOL 2041

  15. GMO,ethics, and the real world • GMOs are very expensive • Yields are no better than existing varieties • Banned in Europe • Patenting life? • The Monsanto case • Is it playing God? • Alternatives: Integrated Pest Management!! BIOL 2041