A new paper written by Patrick Mulvany, traces the roots of agricultural biodiversity, threats, benefits and how to sustain it. Agricultural biodiversity is the product of the dynamic management of species and ecosystems, especially by smaller-scale food providers, their families and communities, who have co-evolved with these species over millennia in all regions of the world. It encompasses the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms which are necessary to sustain key functions of the agro-ecosystem, its structure and processes for, and in support of, food production and food security.
Through land use change, destructive and unsustainable management of ecosystems and ‘downstream’ pollution, industrial production systems are the main cause of the loss of biodiversity. Their impacts in rural territories across the world include the rapid spread not only of monocultures, but also massive increases in the use of associated pesticides and herbicides, resource consolidation and the exodus of producers.
On the other hand, biodiverse agroecological approaches bring multiple benefits, simultaneously building resilience in ecosystems and farming communities, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from food production and drawing carbon from the atmosphere. Biodiverse and complex food webs provide food to more than 70% of the world’s peoples.
The author stresses that benefits to people and the planet can only be properly realised if the dynamic management of agricultural biodiversity within productive agroecosystems, above and below ground and in waters, and the resultant food provision, is developed within the framework of food sovereignty. Through the efforts of peasants and indigenous peoples in all regions of the world, agricultural biodiversity is given life. They use their biodiverse and ecological models of production, and harvest and process food locally for localised markets, which connect those who grow with those who eat, wherever they are.
The challenge is not only to support and protect the rights of the world’s peasants who dynamically manage agricultural biodiversity in the framework of food sovereignty, it is also to bust the myth of the dominant but misleading ‘Feed the World’ narrative about food security being realised by biodiversity-eroding industrial commodity production.
The full paper “Agricultural biodiversity is sustained in the framework of food sovereignty” can be downloaded at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/