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Sustainable Food Guide
Environmental Practice at Work © 2005 Link:EP@W Ltd Web Site


 Biodiversity Information...

75% of European food product diversity has been lost since 1900

93% of American food product diversity has been lost in the same time period

33% of livestock varieties have disappeared or are near disappearing

30,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct in the last century, and one more is lost every six hours

Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) aims for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources. It has a 2010 Target to " achieve a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth." graphic:apples & pears

The decrease in variability is not just between species; it is also within species. The increase in soybean production is parallel to a decrease in crop diversity as shown by the Simpson index, an indicator of variability, increased from 0,179 to 0,305 in the period 1997-2005 (Simpson index = 1 means total homogeneity).

When the EU approves a GM variety, the manufacturers must demonstrate that it does not adversely affect biodiveristy. Yet, there is a lot more difference in biodiversity between crops than between a GM Crop and a non-GM crop. e.g Hemp plants encourage a lot of other plants and animals that a traditional wheat crop - or GM wheat crop. As there is no requirement during Pesticide Approval for pesticide manufacturers to demonstrate that the application of the pesticde reduces biodiverity - which they clearly, and are intended to, do.

Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living genetically modified organisms (GMOs). An advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure ensures that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of such organisms into their territory. More on GM.

Intellectual Property. How do we ensure that the people who have taken care of various local genetic resources for generations should be properly recognised in terms of ownership of these materials? Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are considered the principal mechanisms available to facilitate the sustainable use of the “components of biological diversity” and thereby link indigenous and sustainability issues with biotechnology and global trade. This is dealth with through WTO and TRIPs. TRIPS raises important questions about the ethics of ownership of genetic materials we depend on for food. Discussion from New Agriculturalist


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