Agriculture

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Agriculture is the work of the earth ( ager means field in Latin). Its history is mainly shaped by technical progress, the economy and the environment.

Origin of agriculture

The first traces of growing plants and domestication of animals for food purposes date back to the Neolithic period, at least 10,000 years ago (8,000 years BC). This period, called the Neolithic Revolution, is the first agricultural revolution.

These first traces are from the Middle East. It is near the town of Er Riha (now Jericho, Palestine) that the first evidence was found. The same transition took place later in sub-Saharan Africa.

The arrival of agriculture is also an important social change since a nomadic way of life based on hunting and gathering, men have adopted a more sedentary life.

The agricultural revolution

The modern agriculture, based on a yield of principle, emerged along with agricultural machinery. The beginning of this revolution is still subject to debate. Some researchers believe that it started very early (in the Middle Ages), while others suggest that it is contemporaneous with the industrial revolution of the late XIX th century, and it still would not be completed.

The green revolution and the Pac

It is the arrival of mechanization and more specifically, tractors, which marks the beginning of the green revolution. In a context of end of war, Europe – France in particular – must rebuild. The Marshall Plan of 1947 allowed this reconstruction and resulted in the arrival of tractors on the fields.

Agriculture is also strongly supported by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP ) signed in the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and put in place in 1962. This directive, which concerns the whole of the European Union, aims to allow developing agriculture and protecting farmers. Effective, it has helped revive this sector in France and feed consumers at reasonable costs.

The Pac has also resulted in a profound change in the French landscape: land consolidation(removal of hedges within farms) has been favored, causing the disappearance of groves and the appearance of  openfields that facilitate mechanized farming.

Environmental awareness and scientific progress

The end of the 20th century and early 21st are marked by an awareness of movements environmentalists who advocate a return to a less intensive agriculture and respect the land and environment, but also a significant improvement in the field of transgenesis.

The principle of transgenesis applied to agriculture is to insert a gene for resistance to a pesticide in a plant, in order to then treat the land with the pesticide and kill pests without weakening the plant. This is compatible with intensive farming and monoculture. In France, the cultivation of GMOs is currently prohibited.

The major agricultural movements known as environmentally friendly are reasoned agriculture, which consists inter alia of trying to limit chemical control to the benefit of biological control, and organic farming for which the use of GMOs and Fertilizers and synthetic pesticides are prohibited (however, many treatment products are allowed).

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