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Human Progress from hunting and gathering to commercial agriculture

human progress

Knox and Paul successfully explain the theory of urbanization and its links to population growth, food and agriculture, industrialization, globalization and finally environmental impacts. They underline the role of towns and cities in human economic and social organization. While reading four fundamental aspects of urbanization, which are mobilizing function, decision-making capacity, generative function and transformative capacity, I
realized how all these urban theorems gathered altogether and led to have a modern problem of world’s urbanized population: sustainable development of natural recourses.

Now, when looking deeply at the human progress from thousands of centuries before and today, it seems delightful what humankind achieved together, but there is a dark side of this achievement. Knox and Paul in Food and Agriculture chapter categorize agricultural practices: from hunting and gathering to commercial agriculture. Three big agricultural revolutions followed each other. All these revolutions led to urbanization of humankind. People were no more busy only cropping or cultivating, machines were working instead of us, different lifestyles, behaviors emerged. Now, the dark side of this development is close: who is going to feed all these urbanized people? Definitely, more food needed. As a result, humankind is poisoned with the food that contains biochemical. Green revolution of agriculture came up with new ways of solutions by doubling and speeding food production by adding biochemical substances/elements.

I’m questioning myself: these all revolutionary steps in agriculture, urbanization of population, new innovations in food industry are for the sake of feeding big number of populations or just doing business?! Knox and Paul gave the right phrase to the this age: New century of commercial agriculture. Where it’s dominated? Of course, in core countries. Not surprised. As a result of all these revolutions new biochemical industry appeared in commercial agriculture, which is deadly not only for humans but also for environment. This is called tobacco industry. I would call that, tobacco became like a ghost for the world population. According to the report provided by Brotfürdie Welt, 1 billion people smoke worldwide, 6 billion cigarettes are consumed and 6 million die of smoking annually. These numbers are just disaster. The reality is that tobacco is highly commercial industry, big money flows from African, East Asian countries to Western exporters. Much of the agricultural croplands are used by tobacco industry which can feed millions of hungry, malnourished people.

The first reality I have to face is that the tobacco industry is powerful in term of gaining money to big Western exporters like US and Germany. Second, the situation tobacco industry creates in African and Asian countries, is doubtful. OK, there is big money to deal with. But what about the poverty, hunger and environmental damages it creates? For my point of view, there are two benefits for western countries: to earn money and to create another tool for affecting population growth. Lets look at the deep of the situation. Brotfür die Welt report exemplifies Malawi case, where 23 % of economic revenue rests on tobacco industry and at the same time 72 % of population live in extreme poverty. Much of the agricultural areas are occupied by tobacco industry, which endangers human life and the environment. Hence, many people will die by consuming tobacco in the Global South and besides westerners will get their profit.

The solution of tobacco case came from Alan Brandt in his book “Cigarette Century”. I think this is the perfect name for picturing 21st century human life: we “eat” cigarette, we “drink” cigarette and we “breathe” cigarette. In his Thailand case, he suggests that solution shouldn’t only come from international level, but also governments should resist on marketing and importing from Western countries. Of course in Thailand it was not fully successful to stop US exporting tobacco. I think that, even it was successful in Thailand, it was exception. Problem is that national governments that welcome western tobacco market take their benefits too. This is commercial agriculture and it targets highly populated countries. In Malawi, China, India, Bangladesh are those countries, which is under the target of West. However, government’s role is quite powerful and big to overcome this problem.


By: Zeynab Abdullayeva

About Zeyneb Abdullayeva