I think this is too quick a conclusion. First, if (as Dan pointed out) a large
portion of the human population is going to continue to be jammed into
cities, transportation of foodstuffs is essential. In addition, there will be
opportunities/need for international movement of agricultural commodities
into the foreseeable future. Irradiation offers a possible tool for:
a. preserving nutritional quality of food during shipping and storage to
areas of need/demand.
b. expanding markets to areas which ban imports due to phytosanitary
restrictions (eg, "we won't import your product because it might be
infested with some pathogen or bug that is endemic where you produce
c. strengthen the position of the middlemen (shippers, processors,
The focus, so far, has been on questions about adverse impacts on food
quality/safety and on the evils of the middlemen.
Certainly, the first issue requires careful, trustworthy research. My
understanding is that some foods (and other ag. products) have proven
unsuitable for irradiation treatment.
I don't really know what to say about the second issue. I admit to some
concern about concentration of power in so few, gigantic, international
food handlers/processors. However, I haven't yet concluded that this is
an unmitigated evil...
Getting back to the issue of concentration of people in cities (and
changing the topic somewhat); I am curious if anyone has information of
the human "carrying capacity" of earth. This would have to be stated in
terms excluding reliance on fossil fuels (after all, we are talking
"sustainability" here). I am sure that these mega-cities are unsustainable
in this context -- there would be no way to supply them with even the
barest necessities of life. However, what type and quality of life would
we all have with the billions of urbanites that are forecast for the next
century, distributed across the countryside?