Yet another scientific report comes out to worry Guardian readers:
“The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates… “a “debilitating” loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species and a third of ocean fishing areas are being over-harvested”… “Over the last two decades, approximately 20% of the earth’s vegetated surface has become less productive”.
“Agriculture was often to blame due to land-use changes and unsustainable management practices, such as over-exploitation of the soil and a reliance on pesticides, herbicides and other agro-chemicals.
Most countries said the main driver for biodiversity loss was land conversion, as forests were cut down for farm fields, and meadows covered in concrete for cities, factories and roads. Other causes include over-exploitation of water supplies, pollution, over-harvesting, the spread of invasive species and climate change.”
Two-thirds of crop production comes from just nine species (sugar cane, maize, rice, wheat, potatoes, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, sugar beet and cassava),
Over-dependence on a narrow range of species was a major factor in the famine caused by potato blight in Ireland in the 1840s, cereal crop failures in the US in the 20th century, and losses of taro production in Samoa in the 1990s.
“There is an urgent need to change the way food is produced and ensure that biodiversity is not something that is swept aside but is treated as an irreplaceable resource and a key part of management strategies.