A third of agriculture is in priority areas for biodiversity conservation

Scientific editorial, (EFE) – Food production is the main cause of biodiversity loss worldwide.

Food production such as beef It may have a large carbon footprint, but there is not the same information about the effects of staple foods on biodiversity loss. A team of researchers publishes a study in PNAS that deals with this problem.

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Experts from Norway, the Netherlands and Japan used spatial models in 197 countries that included 48 agricultural products and conservation data for 7,143 species to assess conflicts between the two variables.

One pattern that emerged was that some commodities, such as beef, rice and soybeans, were mostly produced in high conservation priority areas.

Furthermore, other commodities, such as corn, sugarcane and rubber, are also problematic and deserve more attention from policymakers.

However, substitutes such as barley and wheat mostly came from lower risk areas.

In addition, low-impact crops such as sugar beet, millet and sunflower are unlikely to be grown in locations that conflict with conservation goals.

“What surprised me the most was how much the influence of the same culture can vary depending on the background,” said one of the authors of the study, Daniel Moran of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Beef and soybeans are grown in high conservation priority areas in Brazil, but not in North America. Similarly, wheat is grown in areas of lower conservation priority in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe.

Soybeans and livestock are more damaging to conservation priorities in Central and South America than in North America and Africa, while coffee and cocoa are mostly grown in high conservation priority areas in equatorial nations but are largely consumed in wealthier nations.

Globally, China, with its high demand for multiple commodities, has the greatest impact on food production in high priority conservation areas.

“Food production remains the main cause of biodiversity loss,” reminded Keiichiro Kanemoto of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto (Japan).

The authors hope that these results will help shape policies that protect biodiversity while preserving it global food security.

“Our lifestyles are causing alarming damage to the atmosphere and water supply. Farmers and governments around the world are looking for policies that maintain prosperity while minimizing irreparable damage to the environment,” noted Morán.

Photo: Freepik

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