June 1, 2013
Zakri Abdul Hamid, head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), emphatically states that the loss of biodiversity over recent decades has caused not only an issue with wildlife, but also domesticated animals and livestock.
The IPBES is modeled after the Intergovernmental; Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Hamid was co-author of the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) which was published by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP).
This document outlined how humanity is “hurtling towards irreversible environmental tipping points that, once passed, would reduce the ability of ecosystems to provide essential goods and services to humankind.”
Hamid explained : “The loss of biodiversity is happening faster and everywhere, even among farm animals. The good news is that the rate of decline is dropping but the latest data classify 22 percent of domesticated breeds at risk of extinction.”
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are warning that 22% of livestock are in danger of becoming extinct.
The FAO states the because of the genetic diversity in decline among livestock, breeds of these animals should be considered rare and placed on endangered species lists for protection.
Fewer effective breeds able to produce meat and milk mean that farmers lose money and time while the food supply is threatened by the stubborn inability to change staples.
Hamid states that sue to the lack of “diversification was a result of breeds that became rare either due to their characteristics not being part of contemporary demand or because the differences of their qualities were not recognized.”
In fact, because tradition breeds of goats, cows, sheep and the like have been contaminated through years of breeding, Hamid believes that it is more important to save these breeds rather than eat them.
Hamid continues: “The decline in the diversity of crops and animals is occurring in tandem with the need to sharply increase world food production and as a changing environment makes it more important than ever to have a large genetic pool to enable organisms to withstand and adapt to new conditions.”
At the 7th Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity , Hamid explained that the MEA “demonstrated that such an intergovernmental platform can create a clear, valuable policy-relevant consensus from a wide range of information sources about the state, trends and outlooks of human-environment interactions, with focus on the impacts of ecosystem change on human well-being. It showed that such a platform can support decision-makers in the translation of knowledge into policy.”
Hamid continued : “The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment provides our baseline. The IPBES will tell us how much we have achieved, where we are on track, where we are not, why, and options for moving forward. It will help to build public support and identify priorities.”
Farm animals and agricultural crops need the help of the international community, policymakers and stakeholders (investors) to save them from extinction – so that future generations can see and know what a cow is.
Hamid asserted: “We need to meet the fundamental challenge of decoupling economic growth from natural resource consumption, which is forecast to triple by 2050 unless humanity can find effective ways to do more and better with less. There are no simple blueprints for addressing a challenge as vast and complex as this but its imperative we commit to that idea. We need to urge more economists to do the hard but valuable work of pricing the seemingly priceless. Ensuring these ideas are properly reflected in the SDGs could provide the type of support and encouragement needed.”
Recently, the FAO released a report entitled, “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security” wherein they suggest that eating insects would feed the hungry populations across the globe.
The report asserts: “Insects are healthy, nutritious alternatives to mainstream staples such as chicken, pork, beef and even fish.”
Eating insects are environmentally-friendly because agricultural land is not necessary. Less greenhouse gases would be emitted and the flatulence cows produce would not contribute to the deteriorating atmosphere.
In other countries, the UN explains that “beetles, wasps and caterpillars are also an unexplored nutrition source that can help address global food insecurity.”
By 2030, the UN estimates the world’s human population to be 9 billion. Livestock will need to be raised. Water and other resources will have to be allocated to feed those burgeoning populations.
Afton Halloran, consultant for the FAO Edible Insects Program, at the FAO, explained: “Domesticating and rearing insects can help sustain insect populations while also helping counter nutritional insecurity and improve livelihoods. Farming insects has a huge global potential for both animal feed and food production. We are already seeing producers creating animal feed from insects and research. And development is occurring around the world in order incorporate insects into menus and processed foods.”