The Ecologist


More articles about
Related Articles

The Ecologist October 1970: Genetic backlash for biodiversity


4th October, 2010

Forty years ago this month the plant geneticists Sir Otto Frankel, W.K. Agble, J.R. Harlan and Erna Bennett warned the world about biodiversity loss. Today 22 per cent of the Earth's plants face extinction

As the world prepares to set the 2020 target at the United Nations Biodiversity Summit at Nagoya, Japan, it seems that previous conservation efforts have failed as none of the signatories to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity met the 2010 target.

The discussions some forty years ago in The Ecologist on the inevitable destruction of diversity due to agriculture, and the transportation of non-native species - such as palm trees used in the production of palm oil from Africa to the Far East - is still a widespread problem.

Bennett argued: ‘The seemingly inexhaustible range of genetic variation stored in primitive crops and in primaeval forests is fast disappearing due to the extensive spread of high-producing crop varieties.’

The report involved issues that experts are still warning about forty years later, namely the uniformity of genetic plant variation and the loss of the gene centre of many African and Eastern crops.

Frankel pointed out: ‘The immediate need is to salvage gravely threatened gene resources and to co-operate in devising storage facilities for conservation purposes. This is something that cannot wait.’

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank was established in 2000 to house at-risk seeds but the latest statistics on biodiversity loss suggest that more needs to be done to protect depleting gene sources.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though as the ‘Sampled Red List Index’ (SRLI) was established this month to try and monitor and control threatened plant species.

Read the original article in full



Previous Articles...


Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...




Help us keep the Ecologist platform going

Since 2012, the Ecologist has been owned and published by a small UK-based charity called the Resurgence Trust. We work hard to support the kind of independent journalism and comment that we know Ecologist readers enjoy but we need your help to keep going. We do all this on a very small budget with a very small editorial team and so joining the Trust or making a donation will show us you value our work and support the platform which is currently offered as a free service.

Join The Resurgence TrustDonate to support the Resurgence Trust