【词汇】雅思阅读常用词(029)- The True Cost Of Food

Cambridge 07 Test 2 – Passage 2: The True Cost Of Food

For more than forty years the cost of food has been rising. It has now reached a point where a growing number of people believe that it is far too high, and that bringing it down will be one of the great challenges of the twenty first century. That cost, however, is not in immediate cash. In the west at least, most food is now far cheaper to buy in relative terms than it was in 1960. The cost is in the collateral damage of the very methods of food production that have made the food cheaper: in the pollution of water, the enervation of soil, the destructionof wildlife, the harm to animal welfare and the threat to human health caused by modern industrial agriculture.

First mechanisation, then mass use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, then monocultures, then battery rearing of livestock, and now genetic engineering – the onward march of intensive farming has seemed unstoppable in the last half-century, as the yields of produce have soared. But the damage it has caused has been colossal. In Britain, for example, many of our best-loved farmland birds, such as the skylark, the grey partridge, the lapwing and the corn bunting, have vanished from huge stretches of countryside, as have even more wild flowers and insects. This is a direct result of the way we have produced our food in the last four decades. Thousands of miles of hedgerows, thousands of ponds, have disappeared from the landscape. The faecal filth of salmon farming has driven wild salmon from many of the sea lochs and rivers of Scotland. Natural soil fertility is dropping in many areas because of continuous industrial fertiliser and pesticide use, while the growth of algae is increasing in lakes because of the fertiliser run-off.

Put it all together and it looks like a battlefield, but consumers rarely make the connection at the dinner table. That is mainly because the costs of all this damage are what economists refer to as externalities: they are outside the main transaction, which is for example producing and selling a field of wheat, and are borne directly by neither producers nor consumers. To many, the costs may not even appear to be financial at all, but merely aesthetic – a terrible shame, but nothing to do with money. And anyway they, as consumers of food, certainly aren’t paying for it, are they?

But the costs to society can actually be quantified and, when added up, can amount to staggering sums. A remarkable exercise in doing this has been carried out by one of the world’s leading thinkers on the future of agriculture, Professor Jules Pretty, Director of the Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex. Professor Pretty and his colleagues calculated the externalities of British agriculture for one particular year. They added up the costs of repairing the damage it caused, and came up with a total figure of £2,343m. This is equivalent to £208 for every hectare of arable land and permanent pasture, almost as much again as the total government and EU spend on British farming in that year. And according to Professor Pretty, it was a conservative estimate.

The costs included: £120m for removal of pesticides; £16m for removal of nitrates; £55m for removal of phosphates and soil; £23m for the removal of the bug cryptosporidium from drinking water by water companies; £125m for damage to wildlife habitats, hedgerows and dry stone walls; £1,113m from emissions of gases likely to contribute to climate change; £106m from soil erosion and organic carbon losses; £169m from food poisoning; and £607m from cattle disease. Professor Pretty draws a simple but memorable conclusion from all this: our food bills are actually threefold. We are paying for our supposedly cheaper food in three separate ways: once over the counter, secondly through our taxes, which provide the enormous subsidies propping up modern intensive farming, and thirdly to clean up the mess that modern farming leaves behind.

So can the true cost of food be brought down? Breaking away from industrial agriculture as the solution to hunger may be very hard for some countries, but in Britain, where the immediate need to supply food is less urgent, and the costs and the damage of intensive farming have been clearly seen, it may be more feasible. The government needs to create sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sectors, which will contribute to a thriving and sustainable rural economy, and advance environmental, economic, health, and animal welfare goals.

But if industrial agriculture is to be replaced, what is a viable alternative? Professor Pretty feels that organic farming would be too big a jump in thinking and in practices for many farmers. Furthermore, the price premium would put the produce out of reach of many poorer consumers. He is recommending the immediate introduction of a ‘Greener Food Standard’, which would push the market towards more sustainable environmental practices than the current norm, while not requiring the full commitment to organic production. Such a standard would comprise agreed practices for different kinds of farming, covering agrochemical use, soil health, land management, water and energy use, food safety and animal health. It could go a long way, he says, to shifting consumers as well as farmers towards a more sustainable system of agriculture.

  • collateral 英 [kə’læt(ə)r(ə)l] 美 [kə’lætərəl] adj. 并行的;旁系的;附属的

  • enervation 英 [,enə:’veiʃən] 美 [,enə:’veiʃən] n. 衰弱;虚弱;削弱;神经无力

  • welfare 英 [‘welfeə]美 [‘wɛl’fɛr] n. 福利;幸福;福利事业;安宁 adj. 福利的;接受社会救济的

  • mechanisation 英 [,mekənai’zeiʃən, -ni’z-] [,mekənai’zeiʃən, -ni’z-] n. 机械化

  • fertiliser 英 [‘fɜːtɪlaɪsə] 美 [‘fə:tilaisə] n. 化肥(等于fertilizer)

  • pesticide 英 [‘pestɪsaɪd] 美 [‘pɛstɪsaɪd] n. 杀虫剂

  • monoculture 英 [‘mɒnə(ʊ)kʌltʃə] 美 [‘mɑnəkʌltʃɚ] n. 单作;单一栽培

  • soar 英 [sɔː] 美 [sɔr] vi. 高飞;高耸;往上飞舞

  • colossal 英 [kə’lɒs(ə)l] 美 [kə’lɑsl] adj. 巨大的;异常的,非常的

  • skylark 英 [‘skaɪlɑːk] 美 [‘skaɪlɑrk] n. 云雀;发疯般的胡闹

  • partridge 英 [‘pɑːtrɪdʒ] 美 [‘pɑrtrɪdʒ] n. [鸟] 鹧鸪;松鸡

  • lapwing 英 [‘læpwɪŋ] 美 [‘læpwiŋ] n. 鸟头麦鸡;田凫

  • bunting 英 [‘bʌntɪŋ] 美 [‘bʌntɪŋ] n. 触击;旗布;白颊鸟

  • hedgerow 英 [‘hedʒrəʊ] 美 [‘hɛdʒro] n. 灌木篱墙

  • faecal 英 [‘fi:kəl] 美 [‘fikl] adj. 渣滓的;排泄物的(等于fecal)

  • salmon 英 [‘sæmən] 美 [‘sæmən] n. 鲑鱼;大马哈鱼;鲑肉色;鲑鱼肉;橙红色,粉橙色 adj. 浅澄色的

  • loch 英 [lɒk] 美 [lɑk] n. 湖;海湾(狭长的)

  • algae 英 [ˈældʒiː] 美 [‘ældʒi] n. [植] 藻类;[植] 海藻

  • externalities n. 外部性;外部效应

  • transaction 英 [træn’zækʃ(ə)n; trɑːn-; -‘sæk-] 美 [træn’zækʃən] n. 交易;事务;办理;会报,学报

  • borne 英 [bɔːn]美  [bɔrn] v. 忍受;负荷;结果实;生子女(bear的过去分词)

  • aesthetic 英 [i:sˈθetɪk] 美 [esˈθetɪk; ɛsˈθɛtɪk] adj. 美的;美学的;审美的,具有审美趣味的

  • staggering 英 [‘stæɡərɪŋ] 美 [‘stæɡərɪŋ] adj. 惊人的,令人震惊的

  • sum 英 [sʌm] 美 [sʌm] n. 金额;总数

  • equivalent 英 [ɪ’kwɪv(ə)l(ə)nt] 美 [ɪ’kwɪvələnt] adj. 等价的,相等的;同意义的

  • hectare 英 [‘hekteə; -ɑː] 美 [‘hɛktɛr] n. 公顷(等于1万平方米)

  • arable 英 [‘ærəb(ə)l] 美 [‘ærəbl] n. 耕地 adj. 适于耕种的;可开垦的

  • pasture 英 [‘pɑːstʃə] 美 [‘pæstʃɚ] n. 草地;牧场;牧草

  • conservative 英 [kən’sɜːvətɪv] 美 [kən’sɝvətɪv] adj. 保守的

  • removal 英 [rɪ’muːv(ə)l] 美 [rɪ’muvl] n. 免职;移动;排除;搬迁

  • nitrate 英 [‘naɪtreɪt] 美 [‘naɪtret] n. 硝酸盐 vt. 用硝酸处理

  • phosphate 英 [‘fɒsfeɪt] 美 [‘fɑsfet] n. 磷酸盐;皮膜化成

  • cryptosporidium 英 [,kriptəu’spɔridiəm] 美 [,kriptəu’spɔridiəm] n. 隐孢子虫

  • erosion 英 [ɪ’rəʊʒ(ə)n] 美 [ɪ’roʒən] n. 侵蚀,腐蚀

  • cattle 英 [‘kæt(ə)l] 美 [‘kætl] n. 牛;牲畜(骂人的话);家畜;无价值的人

  • subsidy 英 [‘sʌbsɪdɪ] 美 [‘sʌbsədi] n. 补贴;津贴;补助金

  • prop 英 [prɒp] 美 [prɑp] vt. 支撑,支持,维持

  • feasible 英 [‘fiːzɪb(ə)l] 美 [‘fizəbl] adj. 可行的;可能的;可实行的

  • sustainable 英 [sə’steɪnəb(ə)l] 美 [sə’stenəbl] adj. 可以忍受的;足可支撑的;养得起的;可持续的

  • thriving 英 [‘θraɪvɪŋ] 美 [‘θriaiviŋ] adj. 繁荣的;蒸蒸日上的;旺盛的 v. 兴旺(thrive的ing形式)

  • premium 英 [‘priːmɪəm] 美 [‘primɪəm] n. 额外费用;奖金;保险费;(商)溢价 adj. 高价的;优质的

  • comprise 英 [kəm’praɪz] 美 [kəm’praɪz] vt. 包含;由…组成

  • agrochemical英 [ægrəʊ’kemɪk(ə)l] 美 [,æɡrokɛmɪkl] n. 农用化学品 adj. 农用化学品的

参考译文

食物的真实成本

40多年来食品价格一直呈上涨趋势。现在已经涨到了越来越多的人都认为太高的程度,很多人认为21世纪面临的巨大挑战之一就是降低食品价格。然而,这不是立刻就可以实现的。毕竟,相对于1960年而言,至少在西方国家,现在大多数食品按相对价值计算反而是便宜多了。这代价恰恰是使食品变便宜的生产方式本身所造成的间接伤害。这伤害包括现代工业化农业所造成的水资源污染,土壤贫瘠,野生动植物破坏,对动物权益的损害以及对人类健康的威胁。

现代农业的发展首先是机械化生产,接着就是化肥和杀虫刺的大量使用,然后是单一种植,再后来就是笼养家禽家畜,直到现在的基因工程。在过去的半个世纪里,随着产量的激增,密集型农业前进的步伐似乎已经锐不可当。但其也造成巨大的破坏。例如,在英国,许多深受人们喜爱的农田鸟类,比如云雀,灰山鹑、麦鸡和黍鹀,还有更多的野花和昆虫,都已经从乡村大片的土地上消失了。这就是过去40年里我们的农业生产方式所造成的直接后果。无数的灌木丛、大片的池塘已经从我们的土地上消失了。养殖大马哈鱼的排泄物将野生大马哈鱼逐出了苏格兰的海湾和河流。由于长期使用化肥和杀虫刺,很多地区的自然土壤肥力正在下降,而湖里的藻类却因为化肥废料而不断疯长。

上面所述种种使我们的土地看上去就像满目疮痍的战场,但消费者在餐桌上的时候却很少联想到这些。这主要因为这些代价是经济学家们所说的“外部经济效应”,它们不在如生产或出售一块地里的小麦那样的主要交易过程之中,而且它们也不是由生产者和消赞者直接来承担的。对很多人来说,这代价甚至根本不属于经济范畴,仅仅与审美相关,很遗憾和金钱没有任何关系。而且不管怎样,作为食品消费者,他们当然不必为这代价自掏腰包,不是吗?

但这代价对社会的影响却是可以量化的,累积起来能高到吓人的地步。一项引人注目的将代价量化的活动已经完成。埃塞克斯大学社会与环境研究中心的主任Jules Pretty教授负责了该活动,他是位关注农业未来的领军思想家。Pretty教授和他的同事计算了某一年中英国农业外部经济效应的价值。他们综合了修复损坏所需的费用,得出的总数是二十三亿四千三百万英镑,具体到每公顷耕地和永久性牧场则为二百零八英镑,几乎和当年英国政府及欧盟在英国农业上的投入相当,据Pretty教授说这还是保守估计。

这些费用包括:一亿两千万英镑用于消除杀虫刺;一千六百万英镑用于消除硝酸盐;五千五百万英镑用于消除土壤中的磷酸盐;两千三百万英镑用于自来水公司清除引用水中所含有的隐孢子虫病菌;一亿两千五百万英镑用来修复野生动物栖息地、灌木以及石墙所受到的损坏;十一亿一千三百万英镑用来治理可能会导致气候变化的尾气;一亿零六百万英镑用在治理土壤腐蚀和有机碳流失上:一亿六千九百万英镑用于食品中毒;六亿零七百万英镑用于治疗牲畜疾病。由此Pretty教授得出了一个简单但却惊人的结论:实际上我们的食品花销翻了三倍。我们正用三种不同的方式为自认为便宜了的食物买单:一是在柜台付款,二是通过纳税,税收提供了强大的经济支柱,三是收拾现代农业生产留下的烂摊子。

那么食品的真正花销能降下来吗?对于一些国家来说,通过摆脱工业化农业解决饥饿问题也许相当困难,但在英国,对粮食的需求相对缓和,并且大家都清楚看到了密集型农业所耗费的成本和带来的破坏为现代密集型企业,放弃现代化农业更为可行。政府有必要设立可持续性、有竞争力和多样化的农业及粮食生产部门,这一定会为农村经济的繁荣和可持续发展做出贡献,并加快实现环境、经济、健康以及动物福利方面的目标。

但如果工业化农业将被取代,可行的替代办法又是什么呢?Pretty教授感觉对于许多农民来说,有机农业在思想上和实践上都是一个很大的跨越。并且,有机产品的高价格使得许多比较贫困的消费者无力购买。他推荐尽快引入“绿色食品标准”,这会促使市场朝着比现行标准更环保的方向发展,而又不必全部投入有机农业生产。“绿色食品标准”将涵盖不同农业经营上的共认做法,包括农用化学品的使用、土壤质量、土地经营管理模式、水资源及能源利用、食品安全以及动物健康等。Pretty教授认为,这一标准将对消费者和农场主从传统的农业转向可持续发展农业大有裨益。

http://jetedu.com
 
error: