“The erosion of biodiversity for food and agriculture severely compromises global food security. We need to strengthen our efforts to protect and wisely manage biodiversity for food security. Its sustainable use is central to achieve a secure and sustainable food supply system.” Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Biodiversity serves as a reservoir for new medicines and food crops.
While a balanced diet should be composed of a diversity of foods, the general trend of our modern diet leans towards simplification. Of the 270,000 plants catalogued by scientists, only about 150 are cultivated for food, and of these only 15 crops provide 90 percent of the world’s food intake. (Click Here to visit the USDA’s comprehensive overview of the major world crops.) In recent years new “old world” crops have been introduced to the market. Quinoa, a grain historically cultivated by the Incas, is one such example. To read more about how the increase in global consumption of quinoa has effected the indigenous Bolivian farmers who grow the seed, Click Here.
Our continued access to food crops depends upon biological diversity.
The ability to produce food crops that can withstand environmental changes depends upon the genetic diversity of wild and cultivated plant varieties. In order for food to get to our table, our crops must overcome water scarcity, heat, salinity, nitrogen deficiency, disease, and pests. The ability for our crops to adapt to these conditions depends upon access to wild crop varieties, which can provide traits (genetic resources) for creating new domestic crop varieties. Furthermore, the fertility of our soils, the pollination of our crops, and the management of pests and pathogens are dependent upon a diversity of organisms in symbiotic interaction. To learn more about how new food crop varieties are created Click Here.
Many of the worlds poorest people depend upon local biodiversity for survival.
Many people, particularly indigenous communities, rely upon wild-harvested food to meet their daily nutritional requirements and provide a source of income. During times of famine or instability the only food available may be wild varieties. Furthermore, most people in developing countries depend upon a diversity of plants to treat medical ailments. Currently, there are 13.3 million people who suffer from food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. Click here to read the United Nations efforts in this region.References - Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition. Convention on Biological Diversity. Retrieved 2011-09-13. - Foodcrops. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2011-09-13. - Gutierrez, David. (2009), Global food security at risk as crop biodiversity is lost. Natural News. Retrieved 2011-09-13. - Northoff, Erwin. (2004), Biodiversity for food security FAO launches campaign in favor of biodiversity. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Thrupp, L. A. (2000), Linking Agricultural Biodiversity and Food Security: the Valuable Role of Agrobiodiversity for Sustainable Agriculture. International Affairs, 76: 283–297. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.00133
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