In less industrial societies, modern food and agriculture have proved disruptive on an even larger scale than in industrial areas.
Cattle-grazing, use of marginal lands, and the export of cash crops have overturned patterns of farming and cultural life extending back thousands of years. In the wake of monocropping-growing one major crop or livestock for foreign export such as coffee, bananas, sugar, tomatoes, cattle, or sheep-tens of millions of families, uprooted from their ancestral lands, flocked to urban metropolitan centers such as San Paulo, Cairo, or Calcutta in quest of employment and opportunity. The vast urban slums created by this exodus from the land offer only poverty, hunger, and emergency relief consisting of infant formula, refined foods, and artificial birth control devices and artificial immunizations that further contribute to disease and destitution.
Growing grain directly for human consumption, meanwhile, would result in greater utilization of land and a more abundant food supply. At the present time it takes from five to ten times as much land to raise beef, pork, lamb, and dairy cattle as it does grains and vegetables. An international economy based on whole foods and organic agriculture would reverse the trend toward concentration of farmland in fewer hands. Hundreds of millions of families living in squalor would return to the lands from which they were driven off and find food, shelter, and meaningful employment. World hunger and poverty, largely the result of modern agricultural dislocations and changing patterns of food consumption, would end and tensions among states, aggravated by competing cash crops for foreign export, would diminish as local communities and regions became more self-sustaining. World population would also stabilize at much lower natural levels as high birth rates-largely a survival mechanism, common to other threatened species as well as humans-returned to normal.
Meanwhile, a few emergency relief agencies, including the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the International Red Cross have begun to distribute brown rice and other whole grains rather than refined grains in selected refugee camps around the world. These and other positive interim measures should be encouraged until more basic solutions can be achieved.