A Growing Population
Due to advances in science, fewer and fewer farmers are needed to feed the growing population. In many parts of the world only 1 in every 200 people grow plants or raise animals for food while the other 199 buy what we need to eat. Most of us never give a thought to the growing, processing, packaging, shipping and in some cases, even the safety, of what we eat. Tinkering with nature, through science, in order to grow more, and yield more produces consequences for human health and the environment unbeknownst to the consumer. In order to change a wild plant into a food plant, a change in the plants' genes is needed. This helps to boost the plants' yield, but at the same time modifies the plants' genetic make-up.
Over the last one hundred years the Earth's population has doubled and redoubled. In 1950 the population reached three billion, while in a little less than a single human generation rose to six billion. Farmers needed to keep pace with the growing population and began to modify plants' genes based on information provided by nitrogen chemists. With new crop varieties and an expanded use of fertilizer, the amount of grain harvested jumped from 692 million tons in 1920 to 1.9 billion tons by 1992, all without any real increase in the amount of farmland. With the addition of approximately 80 million more humans per year, the question that remains; is the Earth is too small to sustain us in the ways that it did for our ancestors? If so, the challenge lies in limiting the destructive effects of agriculture as we continue to alter the state of the food we eat and the environment from which it is harvested. (Federoff 2004)
Although the population is increasing there have been some disparities among the health and life expectancy of those living in rural areas versus those living in urban areas. This may be partially explained by the changes our world has undergone over the last few decades in terms of our move toward becoming more sterile as well as decreasing the use of farmland due to genetic engineering and increasing industrialization and the green energy movement.
"Americans residing in major cities live longer, healthier lives overall than their country cousins—a reversal from decades past." (City vs Country http://online.wsj.com) This is primarily due to access to medical care. With better access, this statement may not hold true. With GMO there is the added dimension of less resources expended and with less resources comes less attention to issues.
Rural living has many great advantages. Children who grow up on farms have fewer cases of asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders than urban dwellers. This can be explained by the hygiene hypothesis because children are exposed to a variety of microorganisms, their immune systems are stronger and well-functioning. Those living in urban areas have higher mental health problems including mood disorders and anxiety. "People who move from a city environment to the country or vice versa generally bring their health habits with them. Leigh Young grew up on a tiny farm in rural Michigan, eating only what her family grew or slaughtered. Ms. Young, 55, now lives in urban Grand Rapids, where she says she isn't tempted by soda, chocolate or processed food. Her upbringing "made me far more aware of what I put into my body," she says." (City vs Country http://online.wsj.com)