• Follow us

International

Interview: How the loss of food source diversity compares to the danger of climate change

A report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that a lack of diversity in the world’s food sources could loom as an environmental challenge as much as climate change. Ann Tutwiler, chairwoman of Bioversity International USA, spoke on the topic at a recent forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and afterward answered questions from The Washington Times’ Maggie Garred.

Question: How would you define the scope of the biodiversity problem?

Answer: Globally, we obtain more than 50% of our plant-based calories from three crops: wheat, maize and rice. Twelve crops and five animal species account for 75% of the world’s food today. Over the past 50 years, these megacrops, including sugar, have maintained global dominance.

Globally, we are also underproducing and underconsuming a complement of healthier foods: nuts, vegetable proteins, fruits, vegetables. Yet there are over 5,500 plants known to be used for human food — many of them species and varieties with healthy profiles. The Convention on Biological Diversity estimates that over the last century, more than 90% of the cultivated seed varieties have been lost, as well as half of the diversity of domestic animals for human consumption.

The FAO warns that, despite the growing evidence of biodiversity’s key role in food security and nutrition, the diversity of production systems worldwide is in decline. Of thousands of plant species cultivated for food, fewer than 200 contribute substantially to global food output and only nine account for 66% of total crop production. So we are literally putting all our eggs in one basket in terms of global food security.

Q: Is biodiversity loss just as much of a threat as climate change? In what ways?

A: One-third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of global freshwater resources are currently devoted to crop or livestock production. So agriculture’s capacity to shift from being the main driver of land and water degradation, greenhouse gas emitter and contributor to malnutrition to becoming the primary means of resolving multiple global challenges is a major opportunity for policy action. But agriculture has been seen as a shrinking sector in developed countries and the sector of the poor in developing countries, so it has been marginalized in our thinking about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

We depend on agricultural biodiversity for the food we eat every day. We are losing agricultural biodiversity to a combination of factors — consumer demand, agricultural subsidies and climate change — [and] we are also losing options for managing climate change in the future.

Q: Why has biodiversity not been as prominent in our debates as climate change?

A: First, climate science has been able to set a concrete, global target — now, 1.5 degrees Celsius — of warming and [greenhouse gas] emissions that can be allowed without setting off irreversible trends. Setting such a target for an “acceptable” rate of agrobiodiversity loss, or the necessary level of agrobiodiversity, is difficult because agrobiodiversity encompasses managed agriculture — what farmers produce — but also the natural systems that support food: pollinators, soil microbes.

Second, the Convention on Biological Diversity has not been able to mobilize the same kind of attention as the Convention on Climate Change, in part because it has been easier to draw the links between climate change and negative economic impacts.

Third, because agrobiodiversity is multidimensional, you need a multidimensional metric to manage and monitor it. This is where the Agrobiodiversity Index, developed by Bioversity International, comes in. It looks at three dimensions of agrobiodiversity in diets, farming and in conservation across commitments, actions and status. It also looks at what countries and companies are doing to play their part in enhancing the use of agrobiodiversity.

Q: What next steps do nations and individuals need to take in order to diversify?

A: Countries can put in place policies and programs to diversify consumers’ diets, such as incorporating diversity into dietary guidelines and school feeding programs. Countries can provide incentives for diversifying into other crops, including more healthful crops. Countries can support farmers for enhancing the diversity of their soils, which improves soil health. Countries can provide research to alternative crops. And companies can incorporate diversity into their product offerings; they can support farmers in their supply chains to enhance diversity in their fields.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters The Washington Times Comment PolicyThe Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

FOX News

Chernobyl's $1.7B nuclear confinement shelter revealed after taking 2019-07-03 13:33:48A new structure built to confine the Chernobyl reactor at the center of the world's worst nuclear disaster was previewed for the media Tuesday.

French thieves steal over half a million dollars 2019-07-03 12:48:00Thieves in Paris made off with at least 150 bottles of wine, estimated at over half a million dollars, Monday after police say they cut a hole into th

China accuses UK of 'basking in the faded 2019-07-03 12:28:19China’s foreign ministry lashed back Wednesday at criticism by Britain’s foreign secretary on the recent protests in Hong Kong, saying the

More than 100 civilians killed by violence outbreak 2019-07-03 12:15:37The world’s newest nation, South Sudan, has once again descended into a wave of fresh fighting that is said to have claimed the lives of more th

Thousands of mourners attend funeral of UAE prince, 2019-07-03 11:41:03A funeral was held Wednesday for the son of an influential Emirate sheikh who died on Monday during an alleged drug-fueled party in London.

Kenya's president blunt on scourge of al-Shabab: 'I 2019-07-03 11:03:43Wedged in the middle of chaos, bordered by the long-running instability of South Sudan to the northwest and Somalia to the east, the East African nati

Hundreds hospitalized with food poisoning during Imelda Marcos’ 2019-07-03 10:29:44Outside Manila, about 260 people were hospitalized on Wednesday after experiencing food poisoning during Imelda R. Marcos’ birthday celebration.

Indian man, 20, wakes up at his own 2019-07-03 09:21:41An Indian man thought to be dead woke up just before he was set to be buried during a funeral ceremony.

Airstrike in Libya flattens migrant detention center, killing 2019-07-03 08:43:56At least 44 people have been killed Wednesday in Libya after an airstrike flattened a detention center for migrants near the war-torn country’s

Russian oligarch says he spent $20M after McCabe 2019-07-03 08:39:20A Russian oligarch caught in the crosshairs of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe says he spent over $20 million of his own money at the behest of An

Torrential rains in Japan force over 1 million 2019-07-03 08:27:52An onslaught of heavy rain across the southwestern part of Japan has forced more than 1 million people to be evacuated amid fears of landslides and wi

Kremlin refuses to reveal details about fatal Russian 2019-07-03 08:24:49Two days after a mysterious fire aboard a Russian submersibles killed 14 people, little details have emerged as the Kremlin continued Wednesday to shr

www.washingtontimes.com

China lashes back over British remarks on Hong 2019-07-03 04:38:30BEIJING (AP) - China's foreign ministry has lashed back at remarks by Britain's foreign secretary about the causes of recent anti-government protest

Rouhani: Iran will enrich uranium to 'any amount 2019-07-03 01:57:43TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's president warned European partners in its faltering nuclear deal on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of

World shares mixed, Europe advances after fresh S&P 2019-07-03 01:44:12TOKYO (AP) - Shares roses in early European trading on Wednesday after the S&P 500 index hit another record high. Germany's DAX added 0.6% to 12,

Central America's long silence on migration might not 2019-07-03 00:03:35TECUN UMAN, Guatemala (AP) - From the steps of his church in this Guatemalan border town, the Rev. Fernando Cuevas has watched the flow of migrants ev

Timeline: 'Sewing Circle' to murder case against Navy 2019-07-02 20:51:40The case against Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a sniper and medic accused of stabbing to death a wounded Islamic State fighter, caused fi

Airstrike hits migrant detention center in Libya; at 2019-07-02 20:38:18BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — An airstrike hit a detention center for migrants in the Libyan capital early Wednesday, killing at least 40 people and wo

Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers 2019-07-02 18:51:46Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers: The Oklahoman. June 30, 2019. - A long-shot voice of reason in Democratic debates The

UN chief: Colombia must respect commitments to rebels 2019-07-02 18:44:06UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he regrets the "polarization and division" in Colombia over elements of the 2016 peace

Mexico buses migrants back to home countries 2019-07-02 18:09:55MEXICO CITY — Dozens of Central Americans who had been returned to the border city of Juarez to await the outcome of their U.S. asylum claims we

Brazil: Protecting environment not only European 'interest' 2019-07-02 17:53:11RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Brazil's foreign minister said Tuesday that protecting the environment "is not only a European interest" after France said it

Food source diversity threat compared to climate change 2019-07-02 17:50:05A report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that a lack of diversity in the world's food sources could loom as an envir

Emanuela Orlandi case prompts Vatican to open tombs 2019-07-02 16:52:59VATICAN CITY — In a new twist to one of Italy's most persistent mysteries, a pair of tombs in a tiny cemetery in Vatican City will be opened ne

CBC | World News

Rouhani says Iran will enrich uranium to 'any 2019-07-03 04:37:25Iran's president warned European partners in its faltering nuclear deal on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to "any amo

Make July Fourth great again? Trump accused of 2019-07-03 04:00:34It's going to be a hot one in much of the U.S. this Fourth of July — and not only because of the forecasted high of a sweltering 34 C. There's

Thousands marvel as total eclipse darkens Chile, Argentina 2019-07-03 03:56:50Tens of thousands of tourists and locals gaped skyward Tuesday as a total eclipse of the sun darkened the heavens over Chile and Argentina.

Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler CEO who rescued company 2019-07-02 22:34:22Lee Iacocca, the auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford's lineup in the 1960s and became famous when he resurrected Chrysler

Airstrike kills at least 40 migrants, injures dozens 2019-07-02 21:33:11An airstrike hit a detention centre for migrants early Wednesday in the Libyan capital, killing at least 40 people, a health official in the country'

Sundance co-founder sentenced to at least 6 years 2019-07-02 20:38:32A filmmaker who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival and produced a movie whose lead actress won an Oscar in the mid-1980s was sentenced Tuesday to a

Jury acquits U.S. Navy SEAL accused of murdering 2019-07-02 18:50:57A military jury acquitted a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL of premeditated murder Tuesday in the killing of a wounded ISIS captive under his care in Ir

German captain who brought migrants to Italy freed 2019-07-02 17:44:48An Italian judge ruled on Tuesday that the captain of a charity ship had not broken the law by crashing through a naval blockade, saying that by

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence abruptly cancels New Hampshire 2019-07-02 17:38:52U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has abruptly cancelled a planned trip to New Hampshire, but the White House and his office refuse to say why.

Facebook campus gets all-clear after nerve agent scare 2019-07-02 16:30:29Facebook's Silicon Valley campus receivea the all-clear after fears that a package at its mail facility contained the nerve agent sarin.

Ivanka Trump's starring role on Asia trip 'surreal' 2019-07-02 15:03:50Democrats on Tuesday continued to criticize Ivanka Trump and the White House for what they said was her improper place as a part of U.S. delegations a

Christine Lagarde, Ursula von der Leyen nominated for 2019-07-02 13:55:38European Union leaders agree to nominate France's Christine Lagarde to be the new head of the European Central Bank and seal a deal on filling the ot

NYT > International Home

Luis Alvarez, a Hero to Fellow 9/11 Responders, 2019-07-03 14:28:06During Mr. Alvarez’s emotional plea before Congress, his frail appearance brought in stark relief the realities facing many of the first respond

Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About 2019-07-03 14:28:06The government plans to deploy new technology for next year’s head count, but risks abound.

Teenager Accused of Rape Deserves Leniency Because He’s 2019-07-03 14:28:05The family court judge also said the victim should have been told that pressing charges would destroy the accused’s life.

Boeing Pledges $100 Million to Those Affected by 2019-07-03 14:16:34The announcement comes as the families of some victims are escalating their legal battles against Boeing, and as costs for the manufacturer mount.

‘Kind of Blingy’: The Tricked-Out Golf Carts of 2019-07-03 14:11:27“If you can’t have a real Corvette, you can at least drive something designed to look like one,” said an employee of the Villages&rs

‘Leave Tanks for Red Square’: Trump’s July 4 2019-07-03 14:08:59President Trump’s plan to deploy battle tanks in Washington for the July 4 celebration has prompted worries about politicization of the military

Lee Iacocca Was a C.E.O. for the Television 2019-07-03 14:04:51Before the cult of the modern corporate chief, the former Chrysler leader fused his identity with his company’s, helping him sell cars and win o

Rouhani Says Iran Will Begin Enriching Uranium at 2019-07-03 14:02:08Iran will “take the next step” on Sunday in enriching uranium beyond levels specified under the 2015 nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhan

U.S. Olympics Chief Received $2.4 Million Severance Amid 2019-07-03 13:47:17Scott Blackmun resigned amid the fallout from the gymnastics sex abuse scandal. He received a multimillion dollar settlement.

‘Filters Off!’ Chasing the Total Solar Eclipse in 2019-07-03 13:47:05As the shadow of the moon swept across the Atacama Desert, the 52 Places Traveler stood celestially transfixed.

Jim Beam Warehouse Fire Destroys 45,000 Barrels 2019-07-03 13:45:45Fire officials let the warehouse burn to avoid contaminating a creek that runs into the Kentucky River.

Trump Vows to Move Forward With Citizenship Question 2019-07-03 13:42:50The president contradicted statements by his Justice and Commerce Departments that census forms were being printed without the question and they would

Reuters: World News

U.N. investigator reports possible fresh war crimes in 2019-07-03 14:21:54(This July 2 story removes incorrect reference to "Yangon government" in paragraph three. Yangon is not the capital.)

U.S. border patrol under fire as criticism of 2019-07-03 14:19:53The acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has ordered an investigation into reports that Border Patrol agents have been posting offe

Boeing pledges $100 million to help 737 MAX 2019-07-03 14:10:06Boeing Co said on Wednesday it would give $100 million over multiple years to local governments and non-profit organizations to help families and comm

EU Commission nominee seeks parliament support after top 2019-07-03 14:06:26European Union governments' surprise nominee for president of their executive, Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, sought support in the bloc's parliam

EU's eastern bloc ignored in top jobs deal 2019-07-03 14:05:24Eastern European states have ended up empty-handed in the EU top jobs bonanza after they expended all their political capital in successfully blockin

Law passed to restrict foreign film production in 2019-07-03 14:04:27Foreign companies filming in Tanzania must give the government the right to vet raw footage and let the country use the movie in promotional material,

An ever-expanding job for border agents: sensitive decisions 2019-07-03 14:04:13In a U.S. border patrol facility in El Paso, Texas, labels on holding cells indicate whether migrants have been selected - "yes" or "no" - for a

Trump is 'very fond' of Palestinian President Abbas, 2019-07-03 14:00:54White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the United States is willing to engage with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas but hinted a new p

With French-flavored EU line-up, Macron builds future influence 2019-07-03 13:59:15After struggling to get his way in Brussels for much of the past two years, Emmanuel Macron can claim a rare victory in brokering a deal on Europe's

Volcano erupts on Italian island of Stromboli, kills 2019-07-03 13:56:42A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted on Wednesday, releasing hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion, killing one person and envelop

Burkina Faso urged to avoid curbs on security 2019-07-03 13:23:40A U.S.-based journalists' rights group urged Burkina Faso's government on Wednesday to nix a bill that would impose stiff prison sentences on media

Saudi state defense firm pens deal with South 2019-07-03 13:17:24Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and South Africa's Paramount Group have signed a collaboration agreement as part of the Gulf kingdom's effo


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.