Biodiversity, the combination of the ecosystems and living beings-animals and vegetables-that populate our planet,
- is vital for the survival of the human race and the attainment of food security;
- is one of the foundations of human existence, to which it supplies essentials such as food, fibres, air, water and so on;
- allows agriculture and agricultural techniques, harvesting and processing methods, cooking, food consumption and convivial rites to develop and evolve;
- is closely bound up with community identity;
- allows nature to survive by adapting to environmental and climate change.
Slow Food has always promoted the defence of biodiversity, focusing its attention not only on wild species, but also on domestic species (the fruit of thousands of years of selection by peasant and pastoral communities) and traditional processed products (the fruit of knowledge handed down from generation to generation).
Today biodiversity, without which nature would be bound for extinction, is seriously threatened by intensive and industrialised agricultural systems, pollution, overbuilding and the workings of the global market. Not to mention by the spread of genetically modified organisms.
For millennia, about 10,000 species were used for human nutrition and agriculture. Today just 90 percent of human food comes from 120 species and only 12 plant species and five animal breeds provide more than 70% of all human food.
It is estimated that, in the last century, three quarters of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops disappeared.
A third of native cattle, sheep and pig breeds are now extinct or on the verge of extinction and many traditional processed foods-breads, cured meats, cheeses and so on-run the same risk.
From the environmental, economic, social and cultural points of view, these are colossal losses.
Slow Food helps protect biodiversity by promoting knowledge (mapping of traditional products, native breeds and local vegetable varieties and ecotypes) and supporting supply chains (cultivation, breeding, processing).
Check out the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity!