Endangerment and causes of agrobiodiversity loss
Today, the genetic diversity in agriculture with its numerous livestock breeds and crop varieties used in production, decreases rapidly world-wide. The great regional diversity of crop species, varieties and livestock breeds, characterising agriculture in former times, is in decline due to the industrialisation of agriculture and as a result of a pogressing centralisation process in modern animal and plant breeding. Few modern and widely available crop varieties and livestock breeds which are aligned on high yields displace the traditional land races and breeds.
At present, more than 50% of the nutritional energy needed in the human diet world-wide are provided by only three crops (maize, rice, wheat). According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) there are 7,616 livestock breeds reported worldwide. Approximately 20% of them are classified by FAO as endangered, but for more than 30% no stock figures are available. FAO estimates that on the average in the past six years one breed per month became extinct.
For the sectors, where only wild plants and animals are used, for example in coastal and deep-sea fishing, the endangerment of populations is due to other causes such as over-fishing and specific catch methods. In the case of forest plants, wild animals and fish, environmental destruction and changes - caused mainly by excessive nutrient and pollutant inputs, habitat loss and fragmentation due to housing construction, road and waterway infrastructure - lead to a decline of genetic diversity. Today, about 40% of the wild-living animal species, approx. 30% of the fern and flowering plants and about 70% of the habitats (biotopes) are endangered in Germany.