Global market integration increases likelihood that a future African Green Revolution could increase crop land use and CO2 emissions

Agriculture is a key driver of tropical deforestation, and there is heated debate about whether productivity-enhancing crop innovations can slow such environmental degradation. For fixed food demand, globally higher yields will reduce cropland and hence deforestation. However, regional innovations often boost agricultural profitability and lower prices, thereby leading to cropland expansion in the innovating region. This paper develops a framework for understanding the impact of regional innovations on global land use and the environment. Although the historical Green Revolution in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East is shown to have been land sparing, a future Green Revolution in Africa could lead to global cropland expansion in the context of a more fully integrated global agricultural economy.

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