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The missing voice: a zoologist on the consequences of feeding the world

Lunney, D. (2017) The missing voice: a zoologist on the consequences of feeding the world. Australian Zoologist, 39 (1). pp. 57-67.

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Food is central to our existence. We are keen to know about it as we are vulnerable to its lack. Biodiversity is directly affected by the human need for food. Foley, in a lead paper in National Geographic, identifies that agriculture accelerates the loss of biodiversity and that agriculture is a major driver of wildlife extinction. In the increasing concern for the animals raised and slaughtered for human food on an industrial scale, the question of the number of species, rather than the number of individuals, hardly ever enters the debate. Yet this is a point of considerable zoological interest. The lack of diversity of food options strikes a zoologist as basis for concern about how we can manage the future of our food supplies. Zooarchaeologist Juliet Clutton-Brock adds a new dimension to the debate by looking at the arrival of animals as domesticates. In Europe, she says, the driving force of domesticating animals for agriculture may have been the increasing human population. The grim story of famine in Ethiopia will repeat across the globe as the human population rises, and food crises will become the ethical flashpoint of a larger problem of too many people for the earth to sustain. We need to face the converse of the food shortage more squarely, and that is the issue of the overabundance of people. An underlying concern for zoologists is that the subject areas of zoology, such as species survival, ecosystem management and conserving biodiversity, are poorly covered, or not even mentioned, in so many writings on food, food ethics, agriculture and economic growth, yet zoology needs to be on the table at every discussion. The zoologist has been a missing voice and now must be heard.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
Copyright: © 2017 Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
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