The survey has the following major sections:-
1. The main changes in farming and food production techniques
in the last century. There are a number of main areas of technical
a. Agricultural equipment
c. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.
d. Advances in plant breeding
e. Crop storage techniques
f. Animal fodder
g. Food processing
h. Food additives
As a typical example of this, I have include the page on 'Tractors'
in Appendix A. 100 years ago, virtually all farm work was done by
a combination of working animals (usually horses) and manual work
by people. Now, this work is done by machines with a small number
of operators. The information on these pages is drawn from an Open
University Course Book (Brown et al., 1980)
2. The main types of business involved with farming and food
Farms do not seem to have web sites, except for those with herds
of pedigree animals. However, I have included sites in my survey
- a food trader - ADM are one of the largest processors of oilseeds,
corn, wheat and cocoa. "We have more than 350 plants worldwide,
23,000 employees on six continents and annual net sales of over
- food processor (Unilever - Appendix A),
- international meat industry company - (Contigroup - Appendix
A) which has very widespread investments.
- Food testing company - (TNO - Appendix A) which can carry out
a range of tests to detect a very wide range of impurities and
residues in food
- Animal breeding consultants
- Agricultural software company (Agridata - Appendix A) - deals
with animal passports and productivity
From these, the level of technological development of the agriculture
and food supply sectors is evident.
3. The main types of environmental organisations involved with
food, farming and land use. These include the fields of conservation,
species protection (e.g. otters), habitat preservation (the Woodland
Trust), landscape agencies (Campaign for the Protection of Rural
Wales), wildlife (local wildlife trusts), rare breeds societies,
'countryside traditionalists' (selling country styles, jams, herbs,
etc.) animal welfare campaigners, organic food information, 'natural
living' organisations, consumer groups (campaigning about food quality,
etc.), There are also shooting and hunting groups, and the Countryside
4. The main official, government and international bodies for
farming and food
These include, at the UK level:-
· The UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(DEFRA - the old Ministry of Agriculture). The main "Aims and
Objectives" of this Department are the main focus of this study
(Appendix A - homepage, accessed 23rd September 2003)
· The UK Department of Planning and Land Use. Land use regulations
are directly connected to the economics of farming and food production.
At the international and Global level there are:-
· The European Union - the Common Agricultural Policy is
a major influence on UK policy
· The World Trade Organisation - the way world trade is regulated
and organised affects Britain
· The anti-globalisation protestors, who object to the negative
side-effects of globalisation
I have also included a brief description of the effect of the British
legal system, and the way that subsidies work, as these are bigger
systems within which DEFRA operates. I also add a page about prospects
for the future in the international context.
5. Some historic writings, and a very brief history
In this section, I have included brief extracts from the writings
of William Cobbett and from "Lark rise to Candleford",
and written a very brief history. For example, the great landowners
effectively ruled Britain until 1850. This is intended to give a
longer historical perspective, and an idea of how attitudes have
changed, even in the last 200 years.
6. Cultural influences on food and farming
The print and broadcast media are full of messages about food,
whichaffect the consumers. There are:-
- Gourmet writing, restaurant reviews, recipes, etc. These all
have a certain style of their own !
- Food advertising - how the advertisers try to sell their brands
- Food packaging - what the label on the jar says, including contents
- Vitamins and other supplements, dieting systems, allergies,
etc. There are massive industries which try to 'repair the harm
done by the modern diet'
- Children's books. It is remarkable to look at the "Farmyard
of Eden", which seems to be one of the first myths that all
children come in contact with.
- Spiritual teachings. All of the worlds religions have (different)
taboos and advice about 'what is right to eat'
I include web pages on these topics, for, though they may not directly
influence either agriculture or government, each farmer and civil
servant is also an ordinary consumer
7. A summary. The summary on the website forms the basis
of the following page "The Big Picture".