International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May 2017: Prof M S Swaminathan

Chennai, May 22, 2017: Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity. Biological diversity provides the basic feedstock for food, climate and livelihood security. Unfortunately habitat destruction has lead to the loss of biodiversity to a considerable extent. Also climate change is creating new threats to the long term preservation of biodiversity. For example, I proposed in my presidential address at the Genetics Congress held in New Delhi in 1983 that we should develop technologies for ex-situ conservation of biodiversity under permafrost conditions. This will help to save considerable expenses on electricity. The Norwegian government implemented this suggestion and established an International Gene Vault at Svalbard near the North pole. Unfortunately today the Svalbard Global Seed Vault containing several million samples of biodiversity is threatened by global warming. Higher temperature leads to the melting of snow and this will affect the storage problem. So far the seeds have not been affected but if the mean temperature goes up further, there will be a serious problem of safeguarding the seeds. The only “noah’s ark” for biodiversity is now in danger. So on this day, we should realise that conservation of biodiversity needs multidimensional attention and action.


(MSSRF File Pic: Seeds being stored in traditional mud pots, Jeypore)