Are we next? - Genetically modified plants, such as Starlink corn, arealmost all produced by Monsanto. They are usually engineeredto be resistant to Monsanto's pesticide Roundup. This meansthat entire fields can be sprayed with Roundup and the weedswill die but the GM plants will survive. This sounds like agreat idea, except for one problem: It's killing amphibiansworldwide.
A few years ago, a large group of scientists who specializein the study of frogs compared notes at an internationalconference and discovered that the frogs they specializedin?no matter what species or where they were?were dying offin large numbers. It was thought that the thinning ozonelayer, which allows more ultra-violet radiation to reach theEarth, was destroying frog eggs, which do not have a hard,protective coating like chicken eggs, for instance, do. Butnow it looks like agriculture is contributing to thecatastrophic worldwide decline in amphibians.
This means that as the use of genetically-modifiedagriculture increases, as it surely will, more and morefrogs will disappear, all over the world. All forms ofnature are a niche and each affects the others. One thingamphibians do is eat flies and other insects, but we may notfully realize what important role frogs and amphibians playuntil they're gone.
Lest we assume that amphibians are not that important, thereare scientists who think that the current high rates ofspecies extinction will eventually put human existence at risk.
In the last 50 years, we have had one of the biggestextinction events in Earth's history. The die offs have beengreatest in tropical rainforests, which are being cut downfor agriculture. The oceans have suffered as well?manyspecies of fish (such as cod), the main food for millions ofpeople, are dying off at a rapid rate. There has been a 20%decline in corals. A third of all amphibians, a fifth ofall mammals and an eighth of all birds are now threatenedwith extinction.
Biologist Georgina Mace, who is one of the scientistscataloguing the extent of the extinction, says, "Changes inbiodiversity were more rapid in the last 50 years than atany time in human history. When we look to the future, tovarious projections and scenarios, we expect those changesto continue and in some circumstances to accelerate?In thenext 100 years, we'll be seeing extinction rates that are athousand to 10,000 times those in the fossil record."
Some of the ways this will impact human beings is that therewill be less timber for building housing and fewer fiberswith which to make clothes. There are more subtle changes aswell, such as the fact that fewer plants means there is lesspollination and seed dispersal. Plants affect the climateand fewer plants mean more global warming, as well as lessoxygen to breathe. Plants such as corals purify the water,affecting the survival of fish.
The December tsunami in Indonesia was so lethal because themangrove trees along the coast had been cut down, allowingthe huge wave to engulf the beach.
The Earth is a delicate ecosystem and we're puttingourselves at risk if we think we can do without any part of it.
As biologist Kaveh Zahedi says, "Biodiversity and humanbeings just cannot be separated."
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
This is a situation so dire, it'sbeyond ourwildest dreams.
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