Growing up, my mom always said, “Everything in moderation.” A little bit of something is okay, but an extreme amount is dangerous.
Unfortunately, this mantra is no longer being applied to the food industry – especially when it comes to modern technology.
Gone are the days when farmers relied on The Old Farmers’ Almanac.
AI is quickly overtaking the farming industry, and smaller, local farms are unable to keep up.
There are benefits to embracing technology in the food industry, but when we allow robots and machines to control all of our food, we’ve reached a dangerous dependency on technology.
This is not an idea based on future farming issues.
AI has already begun to impact the food industry and is quickly taking over.
As of 2023, there are already around 200 AI-based agricultural startups in the US alone.
Global spending on smart, connected agricultural technologies and systems, including AI and machine learning, is projected to triple in revenue by 2025.
Spending on AI technologies and solutions alone in agriculture is predicted to grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $4 billion in 2026.
- IoT-enabled Agricultural (IoTAg) monitoring is smart, connected agriculture's fastest-growing technology segment projected to reach $4.5 billion by 2025.
It is now the norm to see drones fly above farms snapping photos for AI image analysis, as well as technology systems being used to track everything from soil to food safety in production lines.
What does that mean for the farming and food industry as a whole? Let’s take a look.
The Positive Benefits of AI on the Food Industry
It’d be foolish not to acknowledge the benefits of AI in the food industry.
AI is starting to be used for crop and livestock monitoring to measure health, disease, water needed, and farm automation – these are good things.
It is also helpful further along the food supply chain.
Clickworker explains, “AI has the potential to revolutionize the food production process by reducing human error, increasing safety standards, automating tasks, and improving product quality. For example, Artificial Intelligence can help reduce contamination in food production, which can lead to a safer product.”
The Potential Dangers of AI on the Food Industry
Like similar industrial revolutions, this one is replacing hand tools with automated machines and technology.
But, unlike previous revolutions, the good comes with the bad.
In the Food Navigator article “Risks of using AI to grow our food ‘poorly understood’ and ‘under-appreciated,’” Dr. Asaf Tzachor of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk explains:
“The idea of intelligent machines running farms is not science fiction. Large companies are already pioneering the next generation of autonomous ag-bots and decision support systems that will replace humans in the field. […] But so far no-one seems to have asked the question: are there any risks associated with a rapid deployment of agricultural AI?”
There are plenty of risks. Let’s break them down…
Creating New, Bioengineered Food
According to Green Queen, “AI is being used to create ‘new crops’ either through genetic engineering or via traditional breeding techniques. In this application, it can help to ‘guess’ which crossing will have the desired traits.”
We’ve written about why your family needs to stock up on heirloom seeds in the past.
This is another major reason why.
In addition to the genetic engineering of seeds, AI has the capability to create flavors, foods, or seeds that are addictive so that people keep buying it.
With heirloom seeds, you know what you are getting – the same delicious, healthy produce your grandparents ate – nothing made in a lab with chemicals and other questionable ingredients.
[See also: Why Every Household Needs Heirloom Seeds]
Technology isn’t cheap, and implementing AI on farms and within the food industry is costly. Small farms will not be able to afford these pricey “upgrades,” which will put these farms behind…or out of business.
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of cyberattacks on vulnerable systems.
A Food and Scientific Reports article explains, “One of the main challenges of AI in food processing is data privacy. As AI systems collect and analyze large amounts of data, there is a risk of sensitive information, such as personal data and trade secrets, being compromised. This can lead to issues such as identity theft, and loss of competitive advantage. To address this challenge, it is important for food processing companies to implement strong data security measures, such as encryption and access controls, to protect sensitive information.”
In addition to fears for consumers’ data, there are also concerns about AI smart farms or food plants being attacked by hackers.
We’ve already experienced attacks on public water systems where hackers have tried to poison the public water supply.
If farms or food plants are AI controlled, how easy will it be for hackers to do the same to these operations?
This isn’t far off – in 2021, there was a ransomware attack on JBS meat processors, which shut down operations temporarily.
Now factor in basic data issues. Let’s say the AI machine goes offline, what does that do to the food supply chain?
Just another reason to always have emergency food on hand.
There is a lot of talk about the good AI will do for the environment, but that is only when those intentions are clear.
For instance, someone may use an AI program to create the best crop yield in a short time frame. In order to produce the best crop field, the AI may utilize fertilizers that are harmful in the long run.
Essentially, AI isn’t ethical. (At least not yet.)
It will be up to individual farmers and companies to make ethical decisions.
If they can use AI to produce faster yields that will bring in more money, even if it isn’t the safest way, will they want to slow down to protect the environment?
One of the biggest consequences of AI in the food industry is the loss of jobs.
With the ability to collect data, manage soil and water, perform pest and disease control, provide security, and streamline the food supply chain, there is less need for traditional blue-collar workers on farms and in the food industry.
For instance, self-propelled robotic machinery that is programmed to distribute fertilizer or self-driving tractors mean less need for employees to do so.
Forbes claims, “Blue River Technology uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to differentiate crops from weeds, allowing for targeted herbicide application and less human labor.”
On the other hand, there will be a greater need for those with specialized skills, such as computer programming.
However, as one scientist explains, “As AI technology is relatively new and rapidly evolving, there is a shortage of professionals with the necessary skills to develop, implement, and maintain AI systems. This can make it difficult for food processing companies to adopt and utilize AI technology.”
Controlled by the Elite
Given the high cost of implementing AI, it is likely that bigger farming corporations will be the first to embrace it fully.
When you consider that the elite own huge portions of America’s farmland, it is alarming.
Their money and influence, combined with the power of AI, are scary.
It won’t take Bill Gates much more to turn his acres of farmland into AI-controlled fake meat-producing plants.
[Related Read: The Perfect Storm Is Here – Global Food Crisis]
Don’t Fear AI, Prepare
Don’t bury your head in the sand. Recognize that AI is here, and here to stay.
Rather than fearing how AI will impact the farming and food industries, take steps toward self-reliance by growing your own food.
And, should AI disrupt the food supply chain, make sure to have a stock of emergency food for you and your family.
Feed yourself, free yourself, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply