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Abstract

Ecologists discuss the “food versus biodiversity” trade-offs in the fol- lowing terms: what is the land use configuration that minimizes biodiver- sity loss for a given food production target. This is, in economic terms, a cost-effectiveness approach related to the concept of Pareto-efficiency in the food-biodiversity outcomes map. This paper argues that economists should participate in this debate. A first set of results shows how the introduction of some basic micro-economic considerations modifies or reinforces the rec- ommendations of the ecological literature on how to preserve biodiversity while producing food. A second set of arguments emphasizes that it is not necessarily sensible, from an economic point of view, to set the debate in terms of food versus biodiversity. A wider, welfarist approach should be used.

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