How can biotechnologies protect biodiversity?

What do barcodes have to do with agriculture?


the challenges

Agriculture has to face two main challenges in relation to biodiversity:

  1. To sustain agricultural biodiversity and ecosystems provided by, and necessary for, agriculture
  2. To reduce potential negative impacts of agricultural systems and practices on biodiversity

In order to address these challenges, agriculture should consider the following factors:

  • The expected major growth world population and food demand
  • Globalization, market and trade 
  • Consumer choices and government policies
  • Climate change
  • Natural resource availability, such as water
  • Overuse of agricultural chemicals
  • Land-use changes

To what extent do you agree that each of these factors should be considered?


protecting agricultural biodiversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity was started by the United Nations Environment Program in 1988 and signed in 1993. It works to conserve biological diversity, sustainability and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

The Convention identified factors that influence the nature of agricultural biodiversity:

  • Agricultural biodiversity is essential to satisfy basic human needs for food and livelihood security.
  • Agricultural biodiversity has been – and is still – shaped and developed through human activities and practices over generations. Farmers and their communities play a key role as custodians and managers of agricultural biodiversity. This is why local and traditional knowledge of culture are considered integral parts of agricultural biodiversity management.
  • Because of the amount of human management involved in farming, the conservation of agricultural biodiversity is linked to sustainable use.
  • Nonetheless, much of the agricultural biodiversity is now conserved in gene banks or breeders’ materials.
  • For crops and domestic animals, diversity within species is at least as important as diversity between species and has been greatly expanded through agriculture.
  • Many farming systems are based on “alien” crop species introduced from elsewhere; this creates a high degree of interdependence between countries for the genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The interaction between the environment, genetic resources and management practices that occur within agricultural ecosystems often contributes to agricultural biodiversity.

What evidence of biodiversity could you identify on Alberta farms?



Adapted from Convention on Biological Diversity. Why is it Important? Biodiversity and agriculture are strongly interdependent. United Nations Environment: Online. 


applying genetic technologies

Watch this original project AGRICULTURE video interview to explore how genetic technologies play a role on Alberta farms.

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