Biodiversity for food security
FAO launches campaign in favour of biodiversity - World Food Day/TeleFood 2004
20 May 2004, Rome -- "Biodiversity for Food Security" is the theme of this year's World Food Day, to be celebrated on 16 October 2004, FAO announced today.
This year's World Food Day/TeleFood campaign will emphasize the importance of biodiversity for agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods, and especially for those populations living in marginal and harsh environments.
Biological diversity comprises countless plants that feed and heal people, many crop varieties and aquatic species with specific nutritional characteristics, livestock species adapted to harsh environments, insects that pollinate fields and micro-organisms that regenerate agricultural soils.
Conserving and using biodiversity sustainably is key to feeding the around 800 million malnourished people in developing countries.
Biodiversity, essential for agriculture and food production, is threatened by urbanization, deforestation, pollution and the conversion of wetlands.
Due to agricultural modernization, changes in diets and population density, humankind increasingly depends on a reduced amount of agricultural biological diversity for its food supplies, FAO said. A dozen species of animals provide 90% of the animal protein consumed globally and just four crop species provide half of plant-based calories in the human diet.
FAO estimates that about three-quarters of the genetic diversity found in agricultural crops have been lost over the last century. Of 6 300 animal breeds, 1 350 are endangered or already extinct. This rapidly diminishing gene pool is cause for concern, FAO said.
Reduction of biodiversity entails a reduction of options for ensuring more diverse nutrition, enhancing food production, raising incomes, coping with environmental constraints and managing ecosystems. Recognising, safeguarding and using the potential and diversity of nature is critical for food security and sustainable agriculture.
Conserve and use
Global efforts to conserve plants and animals in gene banks are vital, FAO said. But it is also important to maintain biodiversity on farms and in nature, where it can evolve and adapt to changing conditions or competition from other species.
FAO's International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which will enter into force on 29 June 2004, will play a crucial role in the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources and in future efforts to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security.
World Food Day marks the founding of FAO on 16 October 1945. It is regularly observed in about 150 countries.
Funds collected through TeleFood, a public-awareness campaign including television shows, have enabled needy rural families to benefit from more than 1 600 projects in 122 countries to increase their agricultural production and to feed themselves better.
Information Officer, FAO
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