There are two approaches to conserve biodiversity, protect species and individual stocks and protect habitats in which they live. The essential thing is the conservation of entire ecosystems, ensuring their functionality.
On 22 May, is celebrated World Biodiversity Day. The loss of genetic diversity, species and ecosystems is one of the greatest dangers for the future of humanity. Another more insidious threat is the development of transgenic crops, and can have serious consequences throughout the century, when public pressure does not stop its development.
Every year thousands of species disappear and with them new opportunities for agricultural crops, industrial products or medicines to cure diseases. With the loss of diversity, increased uniformity, dependence on a few varieties of plants for food, and especially increases the vulnerability to pests and diseases.
Biodiversity is being lost due to deterioration and fragmentation of habitats, introduced species, overexploitation of plants, animals and fish, pollution, climate change, agriculture (reduction of the varieties used, pesticides) and afforestation with fast-growing monocultures.
In the undesirable consequences of economic development, population growth, unequal distribution of income and unsustainable consumption of resources, add those caused by the new biotechnologies and the development of genetic engineering, the limited range of agricultural products forestry and fisheries market, and economic policies that do not attach due value to resources. Most of the germplasm of the species and crop varieties and livestock may disappear.
The species recorded reached the figure of 1,750,000, but some authors suggest that probably exceeded 111 million species, although the average figure today is estimated at 13,620,000 species, according to the bible of biodiversity, the Global Biodiversity Assessment, report of 1,140 pages published in English by UNEP in 1995. But the only certainty is that nobody knows how many species exist.
Among the species already described there are 270,000 plants, 4,300 mammals, 9,700 birds, 6,300 reptiles, 4,200 amphibians, 19,000 fish, 72,000 fungi (thought to be the number of species should exceed 1.5 million), arthropods 1,085,000 (950,000 insects described, although the number of species should be more than 8 million), 5,000 and 4,000 bacterial virus (a fraction of the more than 400,000 viruses and bacteria that 1 million are believed to exist).
Tropical forests cover only 7 percent of land area, contain between 50% and 90% of all species. The average extinction one species of mammal in 400 years and a bird species every 200 years, but the documented extinctions over the past 400 years indicate that disappeared 58 mammal species and 115 birds.
These figures represent only the known extinctions. Affected populations can endure for several generations, but are condemned to disappear when the total number falls below a point that can not withstand the severity of a drought, disease, predation and other kinds of phenomena. A species must have a population of at least several thousands of individuals to survive in the long term. About 12 percent of mammal species and 11 percent of birds were classified as endangered in 1990.
90 percent of our food comes from 15 plant species and 8 animal species. Rice, according to the FAO, provides 26% of calories, 23% wheat and corn 7%. The new species replace native species, destroying agriculture and standardizing genetic diversity. Only in Indonesia have become extinct 1,500 varieties of rice in the past 15 years.
As more uniformity, more vulnerable. The loss of the potato crop in Ireland in 1846, the U.S. corn in 1970 or wheat in Russia in 1972 are examples of the dangers of genetic erosion and show the need to preserve native varieties of plants even to create new varieties and pest resistant.
The wheat grown in Canada today have genes from 14 countries and genes of cucumbers U.S. from Burma, India and Korea, genes obtained without any consideration, as opposed to improved seeds that U.S. exports, not to mention transgenic seed.
U.S. multinationals, the European Union and Japan seek to obtain free, especially in Third World countries, genetic resources and then sell them at usurious rates of seeds, animals and medicines obtained on the basis of “intellectual property “. Genetic engineering will lead to the loss of thousands of varieties of plants, grown only a few highly productive, not to mention many other dangers, compounding the effects of the green revolution of past decades.
credit to: José Santamarta