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Agriculture Misconceptions

October 8, 2019

Agriculture is the utilization of biological processes on farms to produce food and other products useful and necessary to man. It is both a way of life and a means of life for the people involved in this industry. This video is going to explore some misconceptions consumers have of agriculture. Like the common belief that organic food production never uses pesticides. Actually, organic does not mean pesticide free. Organic producers can use naturally derived pesticides, meaning they are derived from natural sources. Just because these pesticides are natural does not mean that they are safe. Just think of all of the poisonous plants that occur naturally. Since they are persistent in the environment, natural pesticides often have to be applied at much higher levels than synthetic ones, which can be toxic to the environment. Since they are natural, they are not designed to target specific organisms and can thus destruct both harmful and beneficial organisms. They also lack the mechanism that synthetic pesticides have, that allow them to break down quickly after application. Another common misconception is that antibiotic-free meat is healthier. In reality, all meat and animal products such as milk are antibiotic-free. There are federal requirements called withdrawal periods that prevent animals that have recently received antibiotics from entering the food chain. These withdrawal periods were developed by the FDA based on research studies of residues in edible tissues. The USDA conducts a strict program to ensure no unsafe residues are found in our meat. Additionally, there is minimal overlap in the antibiotics given to humans and livestock. If antibiotics are completely removed from livestock production, how can farmers keep their animals healthy and safe for consumption? Our third common misconception is that cattle are a major cause of global warming. Ruminant animals such as cows do release methane through the process of fermentation that they use to break down food, and this is a contributing factor. However, this chart shows that methane makes up only 10% of total greenhouse gases and enteric fermentation makes up only 26% of total methane emissions. Therefore, livestock accounts for a mere 2.6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Other factors such as naturally occurring wetlands, coal mining, and landfills contribute highly to methane emissions. A fourth common misconception is that land used for livestock is a waste because human food can be produced on it. Although to the untrained eye. It may appear that land used for livestock can be used for growing food for human consumption, most of the land is not suitable for growing human food crops. Many of the forages found on these lands can only be digested by ruminant animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats, and then converted to human edible products. Ruminants are very efficient animals; they can graze land that would otherwise be unusable and turn it into food for humans. Animal agriculture provides the components that humans need for a healthy and balanced diet. This video has explained the importance of agriculture and consumer understanding. Remember, Agriculture produces products that are necessary to mankind, and for the people involved in this industry… It is not only a job, but a way of life!

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