This paper provides an overview of concepts of sustainable agriculture and possible methods of attaining sustainability of agricultural yields and production. Reasons are given as to why modern industrialised agriculture might be less sustainable in terms of yields than traditional agriculture. The question of whether organic agriculture is likely to be more sustainable than non-organic agriculture is considered as well as organic agriculture’s likely impact on wild biodiversity. The impact of the development of agriculture on wild biodiversity is assessed because some environmentalists see the conservation of wild biodiversity as an important ingredient of sustainable development. However, there is a policy conflict between conservationist groups. Some see intensive agriculture (including silviculture) as favourable to the conservation of wild biodiversity whereas others oppose such production methods as being unfavourable to wild biodiversity conservation. Reasons why modern industrialised agricultural systems are so widely adopted (and continue to be adopted) despite their apparent lack of sustainability are suggested. Market systems may tend to lock producers into unsustainable production methods.
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Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers
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