The ecological Think Tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has called for concerted efforts towards the preservation of biodiversity and towards addressing processes which pose as threat to it.
The Benin City-based organisation made the submission in a statement made available to EnviroNews on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 to mark the International Day of Biodiversity.
HOMEF stated: “Biodiversity plays a crucial role in ecosystem functioning; provision of goods and services which are essential to human health and well-being; formation and preservation of culture and adaptability. Food production systems depend on the diversity of organisms, such as primary producers, herbivores, carnivores, decomposers, pollinators, pathogens, natural enemies of pests, etc.”
Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, in the statement, regretted that policy makers are at ease while biodiversity is being eroded at an alarming rate thus posing fundamental risks to the health and stability of ecosystems.
Bassey stated: “The increased use of insecticides and herbicides on farmlands and the genetic engineering of crops to be insecticides themselves, kill intended and unintended insects and poses severe threat to biodiversity. Pollination which is an important mechanism in the maintenance and promotion of biodiversity and is critical for food production, is threatened by the use of genetically modified insect resistant crops, intensive agricultural practices, pesticides, invasive alien species and climate change. More concerns are added as humans have advanced to the point when extinction is being engineered in the laboratory by a technology known as gene drives.”
Joyce Ebebeinwe, HOMEF’s project officer on Biosafety, added that a dependence of global food production system on the few genetically uniform varieties of plants, entrenched in a monoculture system, is dangerous for the conservation of biodiversity and healthy living. Noting the interconnectedness of species and their collective effect on food systems, she lamented that humans are increasingly forgetting the fact that we are all beings sharing the same planet.
The statement made reference to the recent report by the United Nation’s Inter-Governmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which warns that one million species are at risk of extinction and advises that “in order to safeguard a healthy planet, society needs to shift from a sole focus on chasing economic growth to basing their economies on an understanding that nature is the foundation for development. …shifting to nature-based planning can help provide a better quality of life with far less impact.”
The IPBES report also shows that nature managed by indigenous peoples and local communities is in generally better health than nature managed by national or corporate institutions, despite increasing pressures.
HOMEF called on the Nigerian government and other African governments to put a halt to the threats to biodiversity posed by genetic engineering of living organisms and rather make investments in nature-centred approaches to agricultural productivity and promote of indigenous knowledge, cultures and biodiversity preservation.