Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) celebrates global efforts to preserve earth’s biodiversity as this year’s International Day of Biodiversity marks the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Progress has been made at national and global fronts by the convention in achieving its objectives, says the group, adding however that a serious threat to biodiversity grows with the push for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as solution to agricultural challenges.
HOMEF stresses, on the occasion, that the release of GMOs into the environment would negatively impact crop diversity, non-target soil organisms and land use. The non-governmental organisation demands for a concerted effort to discourage their use, pointing out that biodiversity is an essential natural resource for the earth, and that 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, according to him, 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,” he says.
Bassey further regrets that “transgenic crops have the potential to pass novel traits to their wild relatives who may be altered in such a way that they take up completely new ecological roles, and disrupt ecosystems.”
HOMEF calls on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 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.
Joyce Ebebeinwe, Biosafety Project Officer at HOMEF, adds: “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.”