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The International Day for Biological Diversity
22 May 2008

Biodiversity and Agriculture

Agriculture is a key example of how human activities have profound impacts on the ecosystems of our planet.

This year’s theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD), “Biodiversity and Agriculture,” seeks to highlight the importance of sustainable agriculture not only to preserve biodiversity, but also to ensure that we will be able to feed the world, maintain agricultural livelihoods, and enhance human well being into the 21st century and beyond.

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  • Preserving while Producing

International Year of the Potato 2008

The celebration of the International Year of the Potato (IYP) will raise awareness of the importance of the potato - and of agriculture in general - in addressing issues of global concern, including hunger, poverty and threats to the environment. More »

The Future Control of Food - A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Food Security

Launched in February 2008, The Future Control of Food - A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Food Security is the first wide-ranging guide to the key issues of intellectual property and ownership, genetics, biodiversity and food security. Edited by Geoff Tansey and Tasmin Rajotte, and published by Earthscan and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), to read more »

Canada-International Biodiversity Day 2008

On May 22, events will take place around the world to emphasize the value of agricultural biodiversity for food security, human nutrition and improved rural livelihoods. These events will highlight the need for actions to halt the loss of agricultural biodiversity and to enhance the contributions that rural landscapes make to human well-being. More »

EnviroZine: Environment Canada’s Online Newsmagazine, April 10, 2008

Celebrate Pollinators This Spring. Did you know that one in every three bites of the food we eat -- from fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts and seeds -- is the result of pollination? Did you also know that insect pollination is responsible for $1 billion worth of fruits and vegetables in Canada alone every year? More »

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  • Biodiversity is the basis of agriculture. Its maintenance is essential for the production of food and other agricultural goods and the benefits these provide humanity, including food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

  • Biodiversity is the origin of all crops and domesticated livestock and the variety within them. Biodiversity in agricultural and associated landscapes provides and maintains ecosystem services essential to agriculture.

  • Agriculture contributes to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity but is also a major driver of biodiversity loss. Farmers and agricultural producers are custodians of agricultural biodiversity and possess the knowledge needed to manage and sustain it.

  • Sustainable agriculture both promotes and is enhanced by biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture uses water, land and nutrients efficiently, while producing lasting economic and social benefits. Barriers inhibiting its widespread adoption need to be reduced.

  • Agricultural producers respond to consumer demands and government policies. To ensure food security, adequate nutrition and stable livelihoods for all, now and in the future, we must increase food production while adopting sustainable and efficient agriculture, sustainable consumption, and landscape-level planning that ensure the preservation of biodiversity.

Agricultural output has increased over 160% since the 1960s, while the world’s population has more then doubled. Farmers and agricultural producers have done a great job of meeting the challenge of feeding the world, reducing poverty and in many cases contribute to sustaining biodiversity. However, tradeoffs in food production have degraded other ecosystem services.

If food production is to keep pace with population growth, without degrading the ecosystem services necessary to sustain it, changes must now ensue for the widespread adoption and development of sustainable agricultural practices.

Policymakers and consumers must do their part to ensure that farmers and other agricultural producers have the right incentives to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. Individually, education about the consequences of food choices is one important step in the right direction. In the larger picture, landscape level planning conserves biodiversity.

If humanity can create sustainable agricultural systems, preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services globally, we can feed the world and ensure resources are sustained for future generations.

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