Author(s): Reynolds HL, Smith AA, Farmer JR
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Abstract Conducting science for practical ends implicates scientists, whether they wish it or not, as agents in social-ecological systems, raising ethical, economic, environmental, and political issues. Considering these issues helps scientists to increase the relevance and sustainability of research outcomes. As we rise to the worthy call to connect basic research with food production, scientists have the opportunity to evaluate alternative food production paradigms and consider how our research funds and efforts are best employed. In this contribution, we review some of the problems produced by science conducted in service of industrial agriculture and its associated economic growth paradigm. We discuss whether the new concept of "ecological intensification" can rescue the industrial agriculture/growth paradigm and present an emerging alternative paradigm of decentralized, localized, biodiversity-promoting agriculture for a steady-state economy. This "custom fit" agriculture engages constructively with complex and highly localized ecosystems, and we draw from examples of published work to demonstrate how ecologists can contribute by using approaches that acknowledge local agricultural practices and draw on community participation. © 2014 Botanical Society of America, Inc.
This article was published in Am J Bot
and referenced in Journal of Tourism & Hospitality