MADRID, 30 May. (EUROPA PRESS) –
Researchers from Japan have combined maps of conservation priorities with Trade data for almost 200 countries and 50 agricultural products.
They have checked which products are most likely to be grown in regions of high conservation priority and are expected to help shape policies that protect biodiversity while maintaining the global trade in food. ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’.
Food is one of the great moral dilemmas of society. Its production pushes many species to the brink of extinction and grazing land that destroys ecosystems. However, for governments, industry and communities to effectively balance agricultural with environmental needs, quantitative information is needed.
For many decades now, realizing the alarming damage that our lifestyles are causing to the atmosphere and water supplies, nations and territories have pursued policies that sustain economic growth while minimizing irreversible damage to the environment.
The researchers, including from the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), say similar measures are needed for land use in agricultural production, but comparatively little is known about the impact of consumer demand for various foods and other agricultural products.
“Food production remains the leading cause of biodiversity loss,” explains one of the study’s authors, Dr. Keiichiro Kanemoto, an associate professor at the RIHN, quoted by Phys.org–. However, comprehensive and systematic data is lacking on which products and which countries contribute the most to this loss. We spatially overlayed agricultural land and species habitats to identify agricultural products most at risk.”
The study divided agricultural areas into four conservation priorities and correlated different agricultural products with their production on land of different priority levels.
The researchers found that around a third of land use occurs in areas of high conservation priority, while less than a quarter occurs in areas of low priority. In particular, the most widely consumed staples, such as beef, rice, and soybeans, tend to be produced in high-priority areas for conservation. However, other staple foods, such as barley and wheat, tended to come from low-priority areas.
The study also shows the effects of international trade. Coffee and cocoa are mainly grown in areas of high conservation priority for equatorial nations, but the reason is mainly to meet the demand of wealthier nations, such as the United States and members of the European Union, who have a big appetite for these two staples.
Globally, its high demand for multiple basic products makes China the country that most influences food production in areas of high priority for conservation.
Also, the type of land used for a commodity depends on the nation in which it is produced. For example, beef and soybeans are grown in high-priority areas for conservation in Brazil, but not in North America. Similarly, wheat is grown in areas of lower priority for conservation in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe.
Likewise, the nation to which the product is exported is correlated with the type of land used for its production. The United States, the European Union, China, and Japan are highly dependent on their trading partners. to meet your demand for beef and dairy products.
However, more than a quarter of the beef and dairy products Japan consumes comes from high-priority conservation areas, while in other regions that figure is closer to 10 percent.
“That suggests that there are opportunities to preserve changes in supply without compromising current consumption patternsKanemoto points out.
Many countries are now aware of the stress caused by livestock, soybeans and palm oil in high priority conservation areas. However, the study shows that other basic products, such as corn, sugar cane and rubber, they also cause undue stress and deserve more attention in policy making.
“Our spatial approach is a valuable complementary method to other standard techniques for assessing the impact agriculture has on biodiversity. The insights gained from our study should help reduce the trade-off many countries associate with agricultural production and environmental protection. environment,” concludes Kanemoto.
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