Sustainable Agriculture: An Update

Provides some background on concerns about the sustainability of agriculture, outlines and discusses views about what constitutes sustainable agriculture and contrasts the sustainability of modern industrialised agriculture with that of traditional agriculture. Then the question is considered (taking into account the available evidence) whether organic agriculture is more sustainable than non-organic agriculture. Barriers to switching from non-organic to organic agriculture are mentioned. The development of agriculture usually has a serious negative impact on wild biodiversity. Whether or not more intensive agriculture would reduce the negative ecological footprint is unclear but many scientists believe it will do this. Globally, there has been a rapid expansion in the area planted with GM crops. Reasons are given why yields and returns from these crops may not be sustained, and why they may result in genetic losses liable to jeopardise sustainable development. Nevertheless, agriculturalists may still have an incentive to adopt unsustainable agroecosystems for reasons outlined. While genetic losses may be a threat to the long-term sustainability of agriculture, increasing scarcity of natural resources used in agriculture, such as water, and climate change may be more immediate challenges to the sustainability of agricultural production.

Issue Date:
Publication Type:
Working Paper
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN:1327-8231 (Other)
PURL Identifier:
Page range:
Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
Q01; Q16; Q57
Series Statement:
Economics, Ecology and the Environment

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-04

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