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The Expansion of Modern Agriculture and Global Biodiversity Decline: An Integrated Assessment

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  • Lanz, Bruno
  • Dietz, Simon
  • Swanson, Tim

Abstract

The world is banking on a major increase in food production, if the dietary needs and food preferences of an increasing, and increasingly rich, population are to be met. This requires the further expansion of modern agriculture, but modern agriculture rests on a small number of highly productive crops and its expansion has led to a significant loss of global biodiversity. Ecologists have shown that biodiversity loss results in lower plant productivity, while agricultural economists have linked biodiversity loss on farms with increasing variability of crop yields, and sometimes lower mean yields. In this paper we consider the macro-economic consequences of the continued expansion of particular forms of intensive, modern agriculture, with a focus on how the loss of biodiversity affects food production. We employ a quantitative, structurally estimated model of the global economy, which jointly determines economic growth, population and food demand, agricultural innovations and land conversion. We show that even small effects of agricultural expansion on productivity via biodiversity loss might be sufficient to warrant a moratorium on further land conversion.

Suggested Citation

  • Lanz, Bruno & Dietz, Simon & Swanson, Tim, 2018. "The Expansion of Modern Agriculture and Global Biodiversity Decline: An Integrated Assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 260-277.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:260-277
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.018
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agricultural productivity; Biodiversity; Endogenous growth; Food security; Land conversion; Population;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

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