Crisps and Chocolate becoming extinct?!
There was an interesting article in The Guardian recently which highlights the plight of some of our relied-upon food crops, brought on by external and environmental impacts such as climate change. These are topics raised in many of our subject areas here at SRUC, such as Agriculture, Environmental Management, and postgraduate programmes. Today is World Food Day #WFD2017, which seemed a good day to start a discussion about this.
Here’s an extract from the Guardian article:
“Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply – known as agrobiodiversity – are just as endangered and are getting almost no attention. Take some consumer favourites: chips, chocolate and coffee. Up to 22% of wild potato species are predicted to become extinct by 2055 due to climate change. In Ghana and Ivory Coast, where the raw ingredient for 70% of our chocolate is grown, cacao trees will not be able to survive as temperatures rise by two degrees over the next 40 years. Coffee yields in Tanzania have dropped 50% since 1960. These crops are the tip of the iceberg.”
The Guardian continues:
“Across the world, 940 cultivated species are threatened. Agrobiodiversity is a precious resource that we are losing, and yet it can also help solve or mitigate many challenges the world is facing. It has a critical yet overlooked role in helping us improve global nutrition, reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to climate change.”
SRUC’s Research teams are investigating both Climate Change and Agrobiodiversity within our Sustainable Ecosystems and Carbon Management research groups. Researcher Warwick Wainwright, who is researching economic instruments for supplying agrobiodiversity conservation for the sustainable ecosystems group states “economics is paramount to the conservation of agrobiodiversity. If we look right across the spectrum of agrobiodiversity – that is plant varieties and animals breeds – many are in decline because the economics of production are simply not viable in contrast to modern varieties or intensive breeds. We therefore need better support structures in place to sustain the amazing and abundant global diversity of plant and animal genetic resources in agriculture.”
Many of SRUC’s activities are influenced by the need to implement national and global action on the ground to address a wide range of environmental concerns including issues such as identifying ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change and halt the decline of biodiversity.
Climate Change (OED): A change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Agrobiodiversity (UK Food Group): Agricultural biodiversity of all food species is a vital sub-set of general biodiversity, highly threatened by globalisation of food markets and tastes, intellectual property systems and the spread of unsustainable industrial food production. But it still provides the basis of the food and livelihood security of billions of people and the development of all food production, including for industrial agriculture and for the biotechnology (Life) industries. It is the first link in the food chain, developed and safeguarded by farmers, herders and fisherfolk throughout the world.