CBCGDF Sustainable Diet Manual Cases (11)
2019/5/26 13:20:00 本站

Case 11. Introspection over biodiversity as a result of the African Swine Fever (ASF)


The African Swine Fever (ASF) in the second half of 2018 has inflicted China’s breeding industry with non-negligible losses. Since its outbreak in August and with the confirmation of the first case in Liaoning province, ASF quickly spread to other parts of the country at an astounding pace. The extent of its permeation and the pace of its spreading combined instantly alerted the public and led to the slaughtering of large numbers of pigs. ASF is fearful, because once infected the mortality rate will be 100%, and there has been no effective anti-drug that has been successfully proved as being able to curb the epidemic.


What in effect lies behind the ASF? The slumping of livestock biodiversity has been recognized as the culprit. According to the Second National Livestock Genetic Resources Survey, which was conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, at least 31 livestock species have been rated endangered or on the verge of extinction.


CBCGDF insists that biodiversity is the cornerstone where the balance and stability of the ecosystem, as well as the immunity capacity against major diseases, can be built upon. Prof. Zeng Zongyong at the School of Life Sciences of Sichuan University has discovered that: the higher their biodiversity, the lower communities' incidence and severity of diseases; the converse holds true for areas with low biodiversity and high incidence and severity of diseases. This inverse relationship implies that, for one region, a massive decline in biodiversity would highly likely lead to a rapid increase in disease incidences. The differential tolerance of viruses, bacteria, and infectious diseases, etc. by different populations of the same species has significant implications for stopping the spread of diseases and minimizing their harmful influence.


ASF has triggered more careful study by CBCGDF over the evolving of human civilization. It has also revealed the urgency and inevitability of replacing the Industrial Civilization by Ecological Civilization, along various dimensions of daily production and consumption values. The breeding industry in the era of Industrial Civilization has been characterized by monotony, efficiency, and being consumer oriented. The blind pursuit of productivity, output, and economic scale have been driving the pacing out and disappearance of species with relatively low-profit value. The preference of fine meat among consumers has likewise underpinned the dominance of the so-called "Updated Species" on the market. The repercussion of mass production towards individual household farms is huge. Individual farms have a unique advantage in terms of their capacity for maintaining livestock diversity. With the industrialization, streamlining, and standardization of household farming (e.g. measures regarding breed, formula, and epidemic prevention), biological diversity of native pig species has been severely decreased.


Agriculture is one pillar industry in China. The lopsidedness by modern scientific breeding methods over high productivity, dominant species and standardization of production activities may solve such short-term problems as food supply and economic development. Yet in the long run, their side effect of threatening crop safety is almost certainly to emerge.


Controlling the decreasing pace of biodiversity is the only objective not achieved by China, according to its Report on Achieving the Millennium Goals. The UN Millennium Goals were signed by a total of 191 countries in 2000. Its 17 categories and 169 specific goals cover the complexity of poverty, health, starvation, equity, gender equality, women and children, and education, etc. Among them, the 7B goal concerns the preservation of biodiversity. Not only China but also all the other countries worldwide have so far made little progress in its fulfillment. It is still depressing to admit that massively disappeared livestock biodiversity is only one tip of the iceberg. For agriculture alone, the endangering biodiversity that has been noticed among apples, tomatoes, and buckwheat has been long recognized.


The extent to which biodiversity is preserved will directly determine the extent to which future environmental challenges can be dealt with. The causal relationship between more biodiversity (and genetic biodiversity) and more options available to humans as a means of confronting the climate and environmental problems is not difficult to understand. The preferred dominant breed or species by people nowadays may not prove effective in countering these problems.


By / Lu Lei