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Introduction: The Domestication of Plants and Animals: Ten Unanswered Questions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Paul Gepts
University of California, Davis
Thomas R. Famula
University of California, Davis
Robert L. Bettinger
University of California, Davis
Stephen B. Brush
University of California, Davis
Ardeshir B. Damania
University of California, Davis
Patrick E. McGuire
University of California, Davis
Calvin O. Qualset
University of California, Davis
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Some 15,000 to 10,000 years ago, humans started seeding and harvesting plants and maintaining animals in order to augment the food they obtained from wild-growing plants and hunting. These seemingly simple activities set in motion a long-term process that has led to the dominance of agriculture as we know it today. With the exception of a few remaining hunter–gatherer groups, agriculture has now become the most important source of food for most people. Agriculture is also a major source of feed for animals and of fiber.

This transition from hunting–gathering to agriculture was without a doubt one of the most significant eras in the evolution of humans. It allowed food production on a more intensive and efficient scale than ever before, eventually leading to population increases, labor specialization (and especially a nonagricultural sector), the formation of villages, cities, and states, and the rise of more hierarchical societies and states (MacNeish 1991, Barker 2006).

Biodiversity in Agriculture
Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability
, pp. 1 - 8
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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