Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 3-26

First online:

Food security and biodiversity: can we have both? An agroecological analysis

  • Michael Jahi ChappellAffiliated withCornell University Email author 
  • , Liliana A. LaValleAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan

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We present an extensive literature review exploring the relationships between food insecurity and rapid biodiversity loss, and the competing methods proposed to address each of these serious problems. Given a large and growing human population, the persistence of widespread malnutrition, and the direct and significant threats the expanding agricultural system poses to biodiversity, the goals of providing universal food security and protecting biodiversity seem incompatible. Examining the literature shows that the current agricultural system already provides sufficient food on a worldwide basis, but in doing so methodically undermines the capacity of agroecosystems to preserve biodiversity. However, the available evidence emphasizes the interdependence of biodiversity and agriculture, and the important role each plays in the maintenance of the other. Thus, our review supports the claim that the solutions to the problems of widespread food insecurity and biodiversity loss need not be mutually exclusive, and that it may be possible to address both using appropriate alternative agricultural practices.


Agroecology Alternative agriculture Biodiversity Conservation Food security Organic agriculture Political ecology