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The agriculture industry spans the range of single-family farms and co-ops to giant corporate operations.

But the business of farming is not just about planting seeds and watching them grow.

Pest control, climate and weather conditions, irrigation, fertilizers, and the latest news on hybrids are just some of the areas of which anyone involved with agriculture today needs be aware.

And that only scratches the surface. Industrial agriculture calls for computer and technical skills that are as much a part of farming as the gas-driven plow was to early 20th century farmers.

Futures and crop forecasts are also a big part of agriculture as Wall St. investors keep a close eye on the industry in the hope of reaping big profits. This is especially true as corn, soybeans, and other crops become fodder for biofuels.

The future of modern farming

Following World War II, industrial agriculture or intensive farming was hailed as technological triumph that would help to feed the world's hungry. Today, modern farming practices are not without controversy as consumers begin questioning the role the science plays in bringing foods to market.

Concerns are not limited to the potential harm of agricultural pesticides amid calls for a return to organic farming (currently the fastest growing part of the industry.)

GMO's or genetically modified organisms also loom as a flash-point for activism over concerns about the role of genetic engineering on farming and agriculture. Proponents say that GMO's main benefit is fresher farm produce that lasts longer at the market. Meanwhile, GMO opponents contend that non-browning apples or potatoes that don't bruise may have potential adverse health effects.

The limited research available advocating GMO safety has been conducted by the same biotech corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Meanwhile, the US has become a world leader in GMO production while Japan and the European Union have put a complete ban on the practice,

As the pros and cons of genetically modified foods are fiercely debated, what remains worldwide in many consumers minds is "what price progress?" And iIf the industrial agriculture model faces more controversy in the future, what will be the other alternatives available to help feed a hungry world?

Just up ahead, dig deeper into the topic of agriculture -- its past and future, as a modern business, investment, or as a career choice at top industry resources around the Web.

also see -> Pick Your Own' Farms | How to Start a Career in Nature Conservation

Growing Your Own Vineyard | Viticulture | US State Fairs

More about agriculture around the Web:

@griculture Online - Breaking news and feature articles on the U.S. agricultural industry, product reviews, online shop, active discussion boards and related resources.

Agriculture World - Cattle Industry - Directory of major U.S. farms and suppliers with additional links to state and regional associations, councils, state fairs and related resources.

Agriculture Industry News - The online source for breaking industry news, from

Agricultural and Food Scientists Careers - An industry overview from the U.S. Department of Labor with facts & information on employment opportunities, job descriptions and industry outlook.

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Get the latest news, read archived feature articles, or search the U.S. Department of Agriculture's database of research projects, and get job listings and learn more about careers in agricultural research.

AgriBiz - Papers, research materials, market and analysis information, news, and articles on the current state of the business and the factors shaping future trends.

Agriculture Network Information Center - Select industry resources and information from over 15 classifications put together in a searchable database to make getting what you need to know easier.

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