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GLOBAL AGRICULTURE : Life on the Land

August 30, 1994

Agriculture--the cultivation of plants and domestication of animals--plays a part in societies the world over. In cities, it has just a cameo role: back-yard fruit trees, windowsill basil gardens, eggs purchased at markets perhaps thousands of miles from the hens that laid them. But in rural areas of every inhabited continent, agriculture plays a leading role.

Whether by a subsistence farmer in Senegal or a giant agribusiness corporation in Ohio, land is nourished and manipulated to yield enough crops to feed everyone on Earth. Yet 700 million face starvation every year because of political and economic contradictions plaguing agriculture.

International concerns such as democratization, nuclear weapons and trade relations draw governments' attention away from the progress and problems of the farm--the first level of civilization.

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