Summary of The End of Plenty

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9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


National Geographic writer Joel K. Bourne Jr. presents a fascinating, albeit somber, overview of the current state of agriculture and food security. He reports that business and politics, as much as science, influence the planet’s ability to feed its burgeoning population adequately. Bourne has clear ethical positions; he is neither political nor polemical. He offers an in-depth examination of crucial agricultural challenges, demonstrating a finely honed balance between sweeping observations and instructive specific examples. Bourne makes agronomy and its pioneers, critics and attendant industries come alive. getAbstract recommends his insights to government leaders, NGO activists, academics, and anyone interested in the availability of food or water.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How agronomy increases food production,
  • How the green revolution brought both surplus food and hunger to the developing world, and
  • What actions can reduce world hunger.

About the Author

A writer for National Geographic, Joel K. Bourne Jr. holds a BS degree in agronomy and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.




Agronomy merges “soil and plant science” to further “row crop production.” Everything you eat stems from the discoveries and practices of agronomy. Cities exist because rural areas provide foodstuffs by conducting industrial farming on an immense scale. Agronomic advances since the 1920s culminated in the so-called green revolution. Between the 1960s and 2000, grain yields nearly tripled due to improved seeds, increased fertilization, advanced pesticides and modern irrigation. This created massive food surpluses and reduced poverty worldwide by making sustenance cheaper and more widely available. The world had three billion people in the 1960s; that population doubled to six billion by the year 2000. However, at the same time, the combination of agronomic practices and burgeoning populations wreaked havoc.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring presented evidence of pesticide-related environmental disasters. Agribusiness discredited her warnings, and pesticide use continued. Large-scale farming modeled after practices in developed countries displaced family farming in underdeveloped nations, such as Haiti. Irrigating cropland, which increases...

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Comment on this summary

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    Shweta Choudhary Jaipur 2 years ago
    Good insights.
    With the GM crops and ever growing population, sensible agriculture will be a focus area for future.
  • Avatar
    Azra Rizal AZRA.RIZAL@GMAIL.COM 2 years ago
    great summary, kills the fairytale spread by Mosanto and other antichrist organization like Bayers etc.
  • Avatar
    Guest 2 years ago
    there's no real news here - not worth spending the time on
  • Avatar
    YOUNG-GWAN KIM 3 years ago
    thanks for great summary