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F1000Res. 2013 Nov 6;2:235. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-235.v1. eCollection 2013.

Food sovereignty: an alternative paradigm for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation in Latin America.

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Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN, 55404, USA ; School of the Environment and The Center for Social and Environmental Justice, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, WA, 14204, USA.
Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, 95050-4901, USA.
Departmento de Agroecología, El Colegio de La Frontera Sur, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, Chiapas, CP 29290, Mexico.
Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca, CP 62210, Mexico.
Department of Sociology, Portland State University, Portland, OR, 97207-0751, USA.
Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, Nazaré Paulista, Brazil.
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, 05405, USA.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.
School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.


Strong feedback between global biodiversity loss and persistent, extreme rural poverty are major challenges in the face of concurrent food, energy, and environmental crises. This paper examines the role of industrial agricultural intensification and market integration as exogenous socio-ecological drivers of biodiversity loss and poverty traps in Latin America. We then analyze the potential of a food sovereignty framework, based on protecting the viability of a diverse agroecological matrix while supporting rural livelihoods and global food production. We review several successful examples of this approach, including ecological land reform in Brazil, agroforestry, milpa, and the uses of wild varieties in smallholder systems in Mexico and Central America. We highlight emergent research directions that will be necessary to assess the potential of the food sovereignty model to promote both biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.

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