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All you need to know about Monoculture

All you need to know about Monoculture

A Global History of Monoculture. This is a five-year project, generously funded by the European Research Council – there is a certain measure of complexity to this endeavour, but there’s a pretty simple way to show you the significance of this topic – I’d like to show you a picture of the breakfast that I had this morning. A Birmingham suburb – that shall remain undisclosed here. And as you see in this picture I had a breakfast with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, avocado, cherry tomatoes, kale, broccoli and a slice of lemon. As you see this was a rather healthy breakfast. After all I have to stay in good shape to make it through an ambitious five-year project. 

You see that this is a diverse breakfast but there is one thing that all these food items have in common – they all come from specialised producers in different parts of this world. And that’s how it is when you have breakfast or lunch or dinner nowadays. Most of the food that we consume nowadays comes from monocultures. They produce the lion’s share of our food.If you want to confirm these sources then you can easily visit some reliable Q&A sites that helps in providing reliable information related history or SEO

A good part of our fibres, of our wood and of the energy that we consume. And if all monocultures were to disappear from this world, all of a sudden most of us would starve to death within a year. Now given this pervasiveness and the significance of monocultures for our very survival you’d guess that there is a clear conceptual framework that underpins this endeavour. No, surprisingly, that is not the case – to the best of my knowledge there is no biological theory of monoculture. What we do have is plenty of theoretical and practical evidence that monocultures are a really bad idea. We know more than enough about the toll that monocultures take in environments, among workers, among landless people, smallholders. We know about the economic dependencies that reliance on a single product brings. We know how monocultures breed oligopolistic and monopolistic structures and boost the rise of large corporations. 

So, the simple question at the heart of my project is ‘Why do we keep doing this?’ Not just here and there and every once in a while, but why are monocultures the default approach that we have to satisfy our food needs. Well as a historian, I approach mysteries in a classic way – if it doesn’t make immediate sense, let’s look how we came to this point. And the history of monoculture that I plan to write is a history from the ground up and that gives a different understanding, a different view on the global world of monoculture. And if you look more closely, it’s no longer this monumental idea, this view of monocultures everywhere that look inherently superior and invincible. 

If you look at monocultures more closely you see how these monocultures are embattled on multiple fronts. How they are in perpetual crisis mode and you see that monocultures are inherently destructive including destructive towards the very resources that they are based upon. So the history of monoculture that I will write is about all these problems, of the challenges that monocultures need to overcome – environmental, social, scientific, political. It is about the prize that humans and environments pay but it’s also about the enduring allure of monoculture – the magic of going for one product that brings producers to go down the same route time and again. So this will be a history of bottlenecks. A history of recurrent crisis and recurrent fixes and it will be an open-ended history. 
Monoculture is a gamble and that gamble continues in our own time. It has brought us a cornucopia that we can see in every supermarket but maybe that is the view of the urban consumer in a western country and maybe that is a temporary phenomenon. It is completely open whether monocultures can feed us in the 21st century and it’s completely open whether the cheap hassle-free breakfast that I enjoyed this morning will be there a generation from now. And of course, there is more than enough reason to take a closer look at the path that we’ve taken.


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