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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences - Resource Economics

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Life Sciences | Thaer-Institute | Resource Economics | Research challenges | Problem dimensions | Environmental Consequences of Intensive Agricultural Production Practices

Environmental Consequences of Intensive Agricultural Production Practices


The agricultural sector has a key function to ensure global food security. On the one hand, intensive agricultural production allows a steady increase of global harvests and provides and increases security of supply. On the other hand, the agricultural economy, compared with other economic sectors, has the greatest impact on the use of natural resources that may often lead to exploitation and degradation, but also to its preservation. Intensive agricultural production based on high input of chemicals and energy often leads to increasing uniformity, both regarding the products and the modes of production. Negative externalities such as loss of natural habitats by the expansion of agricultural land and the associated impact on biodiversity, soil degradation such as erosion, depletion and pollution of natural water resources and climatic changes are only a few examples of this problem area. Global value chains and the associated environmental burdens add new challenges at local and global level. Developments such as rising living standards in growing economies and increasing population, extended use of renewable energy from biomass and climate change reinforce these challenges.

This results in important research issues Institutional Resource Economics has to address as it deals with the systems of rules and relationships between actors influencing the use of natural resources. Appropriate social rules and the expected economic use of natural resources have a significant influence on the forms of intensive agricultural production and its environmental consequences.


In the Division of Resource Economics this problem dimension is addressed in the following research project:
  • SUNRISE Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in an Institutional Perspective