India has not done well in conserving its rich biodiversity, says a comprehensive document, the draft National Bio-Diversity Action Plan, released by the Union ministry of environment and forests recently (see 'Losing the ark', p58). The country is making limited use of its vast gene pool in agriculture and livestock, thereby creating a risk of food security, says the document.
"Narrow genetic base means more vulnerability to widespread epidemics," it warns. The document also says that because of changing lifestyles, taste and nutrition value, the country's huge gene resources for food and agriculture has got limited to about 12 varieties of food. A large number of over 300,000 samples of these cultivars, kept under long term storage in the National Gene Bank, have gone out of cultivation, it says.
Besides, about 41 per cent of India's forest cover is at different levels of degradation and nearly 140 well-known native breeds of farm livestock and poultry are facing threats to their survival. The document has thus proposed an action plan to check further degradation and for conservation of biodiversity.
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