Landmark UN Biodiversity Agreements Offer Hope for Maintaining Crop Diversity and Food Security
Last week’s UN Biodiversity Summit ushered in a landmark set of important targets aimed at reducing species and habitat loss and promoting biodiversity goals. This new United Nations strategy has specific implications for agriculture and food security including obligations to conserve genetic diversity of cultivated crops and their wild relatives. Gains for the environment included commitments to:
-Increase global area of protected land areas (from 12% to 17%)
-Increase global area of protected oceans (from 1%- 10%)
-Profit and benefits sharing of genetic resources between companies and communities
Crop Diversity = Food Security
With an industrial focus on output of a few major crops, 75 percent of crop diversity was lost between 1900 and 2000 and up to 22 percent of the wild relatives of peanut, potato and beans will disappear by 2055, hit by a changing climate and resource restraints, the FAO said.
“There are thousands of crop wild relatives that still need to be collected, studied and documented because they hold genetic secrets that enable them to resist heat, droughts, salinity, floods and pests,” –FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said.
Just last week – October 26th – the FAO released its 2nd State of the World’s Plant and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which covers everything from gene bank collections to the effects of climate change on crop diversity. It is the definitive health check on what is being done to protect biodiversity in food and agriculture crops. The loss of biodiversity will have a major impact on the ability of humankind to feed itself in the future, all nine billion of us by 2050, with the poorest in the world most affected.
Food and agriculture do not exist in a vacuum. Both depend on biodiversity for the fertile soils and the varieties of plant and animal resources it provides. –EU Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik.