Biodiversity as a foundation for food systems
Biodiversity is the driving force of ecosystem services and has been the foundation of agriculture for many, many years. The drastic evolution of agriculture over the past century in industrialised and some developing countries, based on improved varieties and synthetic inputs, greatly increased production but has led to the artificialisation of agroecosystems and great losses of specific and genetic diversity. In turn, these losses have hampered food systems in different ways: degraded ecosystem services affecting crop yields and resilience, reduced crop biodiversity, and highly specialised industrialised food processing, which has decreased the diversity of the food supply and its nutritional value.
A healthy environment is essential for the proper functioning of both natural and cultivated ecosystems and, as such, plays a major role in food systems.
There are two main impact pathways on food systems: through degradation of the productive capacity of land or aquatic ecosystems and through contamination at different stages of food production. The impact of a pollutant will depend on its toxicity and its persistence. An ecosystem’s resilience to the effects of a pollutant depends in part on its biodiversity, stability and the existence of alternative processes for performing essential functions.