Biodiversity to curb world’s food insecurity

Posted by Isobel Drake on 22nd May 2008

Just twelve crops and fourteen animal species now provide most of the world’s food; and a lack of diversity means fewer opportunities for the growth and innovation needed to boost agriculture at a time of soaring food prices.

This is the growing concern of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). “Our planet abounds with biological richness and this great diversity is key to face the worst food crisis in modern history,” UN FAO Assistant Director, General Alexander Müller, said.

As biodiversity used in food and agriculture declines, the food supply becomes more vulnerable and unsustainable, according to the FAO. Consequently, agriculture becomes less able to adapt to environmental challenges, such as climate change and water scarcity.

Mr. Müller, who heads FAO’s Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, added his thoughts on the issue of global food security. “The erosion of biodiversity for food and agriculture severely compromises global food security,” he claimed. “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.”

“We call upon the international community to intensify its commitment and action towards integrating food security and biodiversity concerns,” added Mr. Müller.

His statements coincide with the global biodiversity conference (19-30 May 2008, Bonn, Germany) which incorporates representatives from 190 countries. The interface between biodiversity and agriculture, the accelerated rate of deforestation and ways to address the climate change challenges through biodiversity use are among the main issues on the agenda of the Bonn meeting.

The Bonn meeting takes place two years before the deadline for achieving the 2010 Biodiversity Target, adopted in 2002 by 110 Heads of State and Government. The Target was set to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss at the global and national level by 2010.