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Land and food security.- Nature Sustainability 2018

research highlights
Land and food security
Land Use Pol. 76, 442–454 (2018)
Credit: Chico Sanchez/Alamy Stock Photo
More agricultural land increases food
production, often at the expense of
damaging habitats of high biodiversity.
This trade-off is the basis of a major
current academic debate, which discusses
the potential of agricultural intensification
to reduce the detrimental impact of food
production on biodiversity. Fundamentally,
though, it is unclear whether converting
more land to produce food contributes to
food security in the first place.
Mauricio Galeana-Pizaña, from the
Centro de Investigación en Ciencias
de Información Geoespacial, Mexico,
and colleagues show that increases in
agricultural land cover have not led to
improvements in food security in Mexico
between 1976 and 2011, except for the case
of maize self-sufficiency. Using geospatial
analysis, they apply a ‘food environmental
efficiency’ index to seven major ecoregions
in the country. This quantitative indicator is
higher where environmental conservation
and food security are simultaneously high.
The indicator integrates measures of food
access, food self-sufficiency and land-use
cover changes. The trends found differ by
ecoregion and farming activity. Agricultural
expansion in three ecoregions was related
to increases in food production. However,
livestock expansion, a land-use change also
common in other regions in Latin America,
was associated with diminishing food
security in most ecoregions.
Aiora Zabala
Published online: 16 July 2018
Nature Sustainability | VOL 1 | JULY 2018 | 335 |