As the world marks this year’s International Day of Biodiversity in a few hours, experts and groups have reiterated the need to accelerate global efforts aimed at preserving earth’s biodiversity.
In a release marking the day, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) acknowledged considerable progress recorded at national and global fronts by the convention in achieving its objectives. However, the group identified the push for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a serious threat to biodiversity.
According to HOMEF, the release of GMOs into the environment would negatively impact crop diversity, non-target soil organisms and land use. The Non-Governmental Organisation called for a concerted effort to discourage their use.
Biodiversity, the group stated, is an essential natural resource for the earth and it is the key for sustainable development of humanity. It plays a crucial role in the formation and preservation of culture, self-knowledge and adaptability.
According to Nnimmo Bassey, Director of HOMEF, genetically modified crops operate as monocultures as many of them are designed to withstand the use of proprietary chemical herbicides. These chemicals directly erode plants, animals as well as microorganisms.
“Crops engineered to be resistant to pests or herbicides negatively affect biodiversity because they do not only affect the target insects or weeds, but destroy other living organisms. These negative impacts threaten the survival of species and lead to rise of super weeds and super bugs that create new environmental problems.”
Bassey further regrets that “Transgenic crops have the potential to pass novel traits to their wild relatives which may be altered in such a way that they take up completely new ecological roles, and disrupt ecosystems.”
HOMEF urged the Convention on Biological Diversity to step up efforts to regulate new forms of genetic engineering, including gene editing, and also ensure that parties do not pay mere lip service to the Precautionary Principle when considering the entry of new technologies that have implications for biodiversity.
According to Joyce Ebebeinwe, Biosafety Project Officer at HOMEF, “when it comes to biodiversity, Nature holds the key. Wisdom dictates that the world wakes up to the reality that biodiversity is best preserved with local knowledge, cultures and innovations. Techno-fixes will never be the proverbial silver bullet.”
“As we celebrate this milestone, nations should renew commitments to protect global biodiversity. It is in our collective interest to do so,”the group added.
May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity
In 1992 state and government leaders agreed on a strategy for sustainable development at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as “The Earth Summit”, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
One of the most important agreements reached during the Earth Summit was the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Convention on Biological Diversity came into force on December 29, 1993, and each anniversary of this date was designated the International Day for Biological Diversity. From 2001 onward, the date of this celebration was moved to May 22 due to the number of holidays that fell in late December.
This year’s International Day of Biodiversity marks the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
On this date in 1992, the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted at a United Nations at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Each year, the International Day for Biodiversity focuses on a particular theme.
The International Day for Biological Diversity is part of a series of activities to focus attention on the Convention on Biological Diversity. The symbol of this convention is a stylized image of a twig or branch with three green leaves.