By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Experts now link increase in obesity and ill-health
to loss of biological diversity. A well-conserved biodiversity will
help human beings live healthy. Biodiversity and human health go hand
in hand and any messing up of the vast biological wealth will have
severe impact on the health of human beings.
As the number of crop varieties has shrunk in the past 50 years, with
90 per cent of the world’s calories coming from a dozen crops,
people’s diets have been simplified and nutritional diseases have
arisen in part as a result. Obesity and diabetes, as well as many
other emerging plagues such as mental health ailments, including
depression, can all in part be connected to biodiversity loss.
According to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD), there will be unpredictable effects on the health of people and
animals, ranging from shortage of
nutritious food and medicines. The CBD, which is meeting over the 11th
Conference of Parties (COP), is debating the issue of health and
“We rely on biodiversity to stay healthy. Biodiversity sustains our
food supply, is a source of medicines, and supports the provision of
clean air and fresh water while also contributing to economic
development, cultural and spiritual enrichment,” says a fact sheet
released by CBD.
The CBD further points out that as all people require freedom from
illness as well as social, emotional, physical, spiritual and cultural
well-being, “we cannot have healthy societies without biodiversity”.
Changes to biodiversity can have severe and unpredictable effects on
the health of all living things, including people. Clearing new land,
for example, can bring people into closer contact with wildlife that
may transmit their diseases to humans and promote the spread of
disease from humans to animals.
It may also reduce populations of predators that hold disease-carrying
organisms in check. In addition, clearing of land may bring about the
loss of plants and other organisms useful in medical research or that
may contain substances used as medicines.
“People in developing countries face particularly heavy health burdens
from a loss of biodiversity, with impacts on food supply and quality,
medicines, and cultural and religious values. It has been estimated
that about 80 per cent of the world’s population from developing
countries rely mainly on traditional medicines derived from plants and
that 25 per cent of prescriptions dispensed in United States
pharmacies contained plant extracts or active ingredients derived from
plants,” the CBD fact sheet said.
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