The cultivation and breeding of animals, plants and fungi for food, fiber, fuel, medicine and other products can be used to sustain and enhance human life. Agriculture was a key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of society.
Modern agronomy, plant breeding and agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers have sharply increased yields from cultivation, but have also caused widespread ecological damage with negative human health effects. Selective breeding and modern practices in animal husbandry have similarly increased the output of meat, but have raised concerns about animal welfare and the health effects of the antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals commonly used in industrial meat production. Genetically modified organisms are an increasing component of agriculture, debilitating the potential of pandemic starvation, although they are banned in several countries and their long term impact is unknown. Agricultural food production and water management are global issues that require teamwork and innovative thinking. Significant degradation of land and water resources, including the depletion of aquifers, has been observed in recent decades. The effects of climate change on agriculture and of agriculture on climate change are connected yet still not fully understood.
The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels, and structural materials. Specific foods include cereals (grains), vegetables, fruits, oils, meats and spices. Fibers include cotton, wool, hemp, silk and flax. Structural materials include lumber and bamboo. Other useful materials are also produced by plants, such as resins, dyes, drugs, perfumes, biofuels and ornamental products such as cut flowers.
- Ficus Interfaith