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22 May – International Day for Biological Diversity

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More than 90% of crop varieties and half of many domestic animal breeds have been wiped off farmers’ fields world wide. Many fish populations are on the verge of extinction as a result of overfishing in the world’s 17 most important fishing areas.

The genetic loss of agrobiodiversity (the variety and variability of living organisms that contribute to food and agriculture) is made worse by the destruction of the aquatic environment and the loss of forest cover, coastal wetlands, and other “wild” places not used for farming.

Farm animal diversification is essential for the long-term survival of genetically diverse and healthy livestock populations. However, industrial farming operations that rely on a small number of farm animal breeds that are able to flourish in an intense livestock environment are putting this variety at risk. As a result, farm animal breeds that do not fare well in factory farming operations are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

In the words of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “more than 7,600 breeds represented in the FAO’s Global Databank for Farm Animal Genetic Resources, 190 have gone extinct in the last 15 years, and another 1,500 are classified as “at risk” of extinction.” Over the last five years, 60 breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses, and poultry have been lost, at an average rate of one breed per month, according to country reports to the FAO’s inaugural State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources Report, published in 2007.

(Image source: fao.org)

In order for any environment to truly thrive and maintain itself in a sustainable manner, it is critical that it contains a diverse range of flora and fauna species. Different species not only rely on one another for survival, but they also rely on one another for the survival of their respective species’ future generations.

Nature’s stability cannot be taken for granted because it was the fundamental pillar that allowed human society to develop into what it is today. In the last 50 years, the number of wild animals has dropped by half, while the number of people has doubled in the same time period.

According to a comprehensive report published by the United Nations last year, 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on the planet are at risk of extinction, with many species expected to go extinct within decades as a result of human activities. Similarly, it made an appeal for people to show concern, punctuated with a warning:

References:

npr.org available at: https://www.npr.org/2020/09/10/911500907/the-world-lost-two-thirds-of-its-wildlife-in-50-years-we-are-to-blame

onlinelibrary.wiley.com available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01846.x

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations available at: https://www.fao.org/publications/sowangr/en/

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