Li Ganjie, vice-minister of environmental protection, announced the figure at a celebration ofthe 2013 International Day for Biological Diversity on Wednesday.
Swans and tens of thousands of rare migrant birds spend the winter in Poyang Lake Nature Reserve inYongxiu county, Jiangxi province. China has established 286 national nature reserves in the past 20years. Duan Changzheng / for China Daily
The figure has grown from 6.9 percent in 1993 to 14.9 percent today. The number of national-level nature reserves has increased from 77 to 363, marking the achievements the Chinesegovernment has made to promote biodiversity since the country signed the United NationsConvention on Biological Diversity 20 years ago.
“Setting up nature reserves is seen as the core measure in biodiversity conservation to preventthe current loss of species and habitats,” said Zhang Shigang, country coordinator of theUnited Nations Environment Program China.
That’s why the theme of the 2013 International Day for Biodiversity in China is ”biodiversity andnature reserves”, while the international theme is ”water and biodiversity”.
“The United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment indicates that in the past 50 years, 60percent of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded. Loss of biodiversity reduces our food,medicine, clean air and water. The ecosystem that human beings rely on is fragile,” said ZhangXinsheng, chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Council.
“China has very rich biodiversity of its own,” he said. “The 2012 IUCN Red List cites over 5,000plant and animal species living in China, and of those nearly 1,000 species are under threat.”
Patrick Haverman, deputy country director of the United Nations Development Program China,said the natural capital of biodiversity has been greatly overused during the country’s pursuit ofeconomic development, and if China’s development is to be sustainable in the long term, itmust conserve biodiversity as its ecological base.
“The challenge both in China and globally is in harmonizing economic growth with thepreservation of the integrity of natural capital. More particularly in China, the challenge is toreconcile the conservation of this country’s rich ecosystems with the demands of development,which has already lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty,” Haverman said.
He said the UNDP appreciates and supports the significant efforts for biodiversity conservationundertaken in recent years by the Chinese government.
The government has given conservation of biodiversity high priority, according to Vice-MinisterLi.
The China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-2030,released in September 2010, set guidelines for the country’s efforts to protect biodiversity overthe next 20 years.
- Elusive pandas caught on camera in China habitat (science.nbcnews.com)
- Photos offer rare glimpse into panda habitat (wwf.panda.org)
- Heartbreaking – we must all act, now! (alvecotewood.wordpress.com)
- Strike a pose: World’s rarest animals are caught on hidden camera exploring their habitats (dailymail.co.uk)
- Developers can build on nature reserves – if they ‘offset’ the damage elsewhere, says Government review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Cities are a ray of hope on biodiversity front (thehindu.com)
Many high-profile pollution incidents, which triggered nationwide outrage, are among the 13 cases the ministry has revealed its response to.
The most recent major pollution scandal to provoke a public outcry was in March, when Deng Lianjun, then-head of the local environmental protection department, responded to residents concerns over a polluted river in Cangxian county, Hebei province, by saying just because it had turned red that didn’t mean the water was unsafe to drink, because ”after boiling with red beans the water has that color, too”.
The river was later found to contain levels of aniline that were 73 times higher than the national standard.
The announcement said Deng had been removed from his post, and the local environmental protection department is testing water and soil samples from a nearby chemical factory that was believed to have caused the pollution.
“The ministry’s statement is a leap forward in official environmental information disclosure,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, an environmental NGO that aims to promote environmental information disclosure in China.
Ma said he was especially happy to see that the ministry has responded not only to issues disclosed by traditional media, but also to hot issues generated from online posts and discussions.
One of them was an allegation that first appeared in February on Sina Weibo, claiming that factories in Weifang, Shandong province, had polluted the local water supply by pumping wastewater 1,000 meters underground.
The ministry’s statement said an investigation led by the local government found no solid evidence that this had happened, but it found that many small paint factories have been operating without wastewater treatment facilities.
The statement said the local environmental protection department plans a further investigation into the illegal dumping of wastewater, and will accelerate the construction of sewage discharge pipelines in the region.
Ma said although the ministry’s statement was welcome it was a bit too simple, briefly summarizing the response to the 13 cases, and he hoped in the future the investigation process, the problems discovered and how they would be addressed, would be disclosed in more detail.
In another case, companies in an industrial park located in the Tengger desert in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, have been dumping their wastewater directly into the desert without treatment.
Production was halted completely in the industrial park after the situation was exposed in March, and it will not be resumed until all enterprises are equipped with a sewage discharge system.
- Data for China’s groundwater pollution seven years out of date (wantchinatimes.com)
- China punishes factories for pollution violations (mooredope.wordpress.com)
- Horrifying Pollution from Chinese Textile Factories (ecobooks4kids.wordpress.com)
In Shanghai, you cannot see the buildings.
The locals are wearing masks again and here is why ….
- Beijing is left fighting for breath as pollution goes off the scale (independent.co.uk)
- Beijing’s smog much worse than SARS, says expert (wantchinatimes.com)
- Beijing is left fighting for breath as pollution goes off the scale (prn.fm)
- Chinese artist creates ‘Breathing Bike’ to counter Beijing’s pollution problem (ecochunk.com)
- Beijing’s Latest Pollution Woes Underscore Shanghai’s Enduring Appeal (forbes.com)
- Pollution prompts Beijing to urge fewer New Year fireworks (wantchinatimes.com)
- Breath of fresh air: Chen Guangbiao hands out cans in Beijing smog (wantchinatimes.com)
2012 was the year from hell for the environment, according to some. ‘Humans seem to have an unfortunate tendency to be short sighted’ says Linda Buzzell gives her opinion in Huffpost. I agree!
We have evolved to respond to the immediate, local crisis while ignoring larger, more general threats to our collective survival.
We’re still cleaning up the expensive messes left by this year’s storms, droughts and wildfires but can’t seem to fathom or adequately respond to the implications of the radical shifts in global climate conditions that threaten not only those currently alive, but the survival possibilities for our children and grandchildren — and millions of other species around our small planet that are dying at the rate of 200 species a day.
Instead, we focus on what seems a more immediate threat: the economic “fiscal cliff.”
What we don’t seem to understand is that, as economist Herman Daly once said, “the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment.” A healthy economy cannot long exist on an unhealthy planet.
Here’s the deal: we live in harmony with the rest of nature or we do not live.
Most of us alive on the planet right now have never been part of a community living in healthy partnership with the rest of nature, and we’ve forgotten how to do it. Luckily, there are guidelines we can follow and visions to give us inspiration as we adjust our collective way of living on this planet to assure future survival.
A book I received as an early Christmas present gives me hope that we can make the needed changes: Choosing a Sustainable Future: Ideas and Inspiration from Ithica, NY by Liz Walker (New Society Press, 2010). We know how to do this! Some of us are already doing it and we can learn from them. In fact, for many of the 100,000+ years of human existence we’ve known how to do this – and those who get it wrong often don’t last long.
The rules are simple: Human communities are an integral part of their local ecosystems and if we destroy those life support systems, we cannot survive.
How many years do we have left to remember or figure out how to live in harmony with the rest of nature? Some environmental scientists say we’re already out of time. According to their measurements, we’re already experiencing the early rapids at the lip of the environmental cliff and need to focus on building lifeboats and deploying parachutes.
But we’d rather focus on other, seemingly more important (or seemingly controllable) things — like the Fiscal Cliff.
- Lee Harris – 2013 Year Of Community – 31 December 2012 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Who will get this economy going? No one (resilience.org)
- Global Warming Unlikely to Cause Near-Term Extinction of Amazon Tree Species (theepochtimes.com)
- 2012.. Worst ever Year for the Planet (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)
- A stray planet (spacedaily.com)
US decision after 17-year battle over fast-growing salmon could pave way for same step in Britain. In my book, this is all a bot weird – no, I’m NOT convinced re Genetically Modified food, sorry! The Independent reports
A GM salmon which grows twice as fast as ordinary fish could become the first genetically-modified animal in the world to be declared officially safe to eat, after America’s powerful food-safety watchdog ruled it posed no major health or environmental risks.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it could not find any valid scientific reasons to ban the production of GM Atlantic salmon engineered with extra genes from two other fish species – a decision that could soon lead to its commercial production.
The verdict clears one of the last remaining hurdles for GM salmon to be lawfully sold and eaten in the US and will put pressure on salmon producers in Britain and Europe to follow suit.
Successive chief scientists to the UK Government, as well as science institutions such as the Royal Society, have endorsed the concept of GM technology as a tool for increasing food production in the 21st Century, but consumer opposition has so far blocked the approval of GM food for the dinner table.
Several government bodies including the advisory committees on the release of GM organisms and on novel foods and processes would have to review the technology before it was approved in the UK.
Supporters of the technology believe the GM salmon will make it not only easier and cheaper to produce farmed salmon, but that it could also be better for the environment because they can be grown on land-based fish farms.
Sir John Beddington, the current chief scientist, warned two years ago of a “perfect storm” of growing human numbers, climate change and food shortages, where it would be “very hard to see how it would be remotely sensible to justify not using new technologies such as GM”.
GM opponents, however, argue that the introduction of the fast-growing salmon creates risks for both human health and the environment. They also argue that the salmon will be the start of concerted efforts to create other GM animals for human consumption, which could raise serious questions about animal welfare.
The FDA had already indicated the salmon was fit for human consumption. But in a draft environmental assessment written in May and published on Friday following inquiries by The Independent, it goes further by declaring that the production of the GM fish is unlikely to have any detrimental impact on the wider environment.
Opponents of the GM salmon – which some have dubbed the “Frankenfish” – have argued it could escape into the wild, interbreed with wild fish and undermine the genetics of the endangered Atlantic salmon, the “king of fishes” grown on fish farms in the UK.
However, the company behind the GM AquAdvantage salmon emphasised that the genetically engineered fish will be only be grown as sterile females and kept in secure containers on land.
In its draft assessment prepared as part of a New Animal Drug Application (NADA), the FDA agrees that the possibility of GM salmon escaping from fish farms is extremely remote and that interbreeding with wild salmon is equally unlikely.
The possibility of the GM salmon escaping into rivers and the sea from land-based fish farms is “extremely remote”, the FDA said.
“[The] FDA has made the preliminary determination it is reasonable to believe that approval of the AquAdvantage salmon NADA will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States (including populations of endangered Atlantic salmon) when produced and grown under the conditions of use for the proposed action,” it concludes.
Anti-GM groups last night raised concerns about the report. Peter Riley, of the pressure group GM Freeze, said: “The sterility system does not guarantee that there will be no escapes into the wild and some of them will be fully fertile. It’s also debatable whether anyone wants to buy GM salmon, even in the US, if it is properly labelled.”
The FDA also states the two other US Government agencies responsible for overseeing laws on endangered species – the National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service – have agreed with the FDA’s assessment that there will be “no effect” on wild Atlantic salmon or its habitat.
In its report, the FDA warns that if final approval is not given by the US Government, other countries may still develop GM Atlantic salmon.
The research into the GM salmon goes back to the late 1980s and it has gone through 17 years of bureaucratic wrangling over whether it should be approved for human consumption. The FDA indicated in 2010 that it would declare the GM salmon safe to eat but the issue was then kicked into the Washington long grass, which some have put down to nervousness on the part of the White House in the run-up to this year’s Presidential election.
AquaBounty Technologies, the Massachusetts biotechnology company that developed the GM salmon, has become increasingly irritated by the delays to its application, which have caused severe strains on its finances.
Last September, the company’s chief executive, Ron Stotish, expressed his anger with the FDA, which promised in May this year that it would soon publish its environmental assessment, on which the approval of the application rests.
“We are frustrated and disappointed in the delay, and we feel the FDA and US administration have a responsibility to inform us why they have not yet released the environmental assessment and moved forward our application,” Mr Stotish said.
A spokeswoman for the FDA said: “The draft environmental assessment is an interim step in the overall evaluation of the application and is not a decision on the application itself.”
Animal farm: a technological revolution
1972: Scientists use special enzymes to snip fragments of DNA – genes – from one microbe and insert or “recombine” them into another microbe. The revolution in recombinant DNA begins with the creation of the first GM organism.
1980: Laboratory mice with genes inserted from other individuals become the first genetically modified “transgenic” animals. Dozens of other experimental species, from pigs and chickens to frogs and fish, follow over the next two decades.
1989: The AquAdvantage founder salmon is created by micro-injecting a fragment of DNA from an ocean pout fish and a Chinook Pacific salmon into a fertilised Atlantic salmon egg.
1995: AquaBounty Technologies begins the lengthy process of applying for official US Government approval to develop the AquAdvantage salmon commercially.
2002: The first commercially viable GM animal is created from two species by Nexia Biotechnologies in rural Quebec. The “spider-goat” has a single gene from a golden orb-weaving spider which means its milk contains spiders silk, five times the strength of steel, which is used for making bullet proof vests.
2009: The US Food and Drug Administration issues its final guidance to the GM industry on rules governing the regulation of genetically engineered animals, which clarifies its status as the chief statutory and regulatory body for GM animals.
2011: British scientists create chickens which don’t spread bird flu by inserting an artificial gene that introduces a small part of the flu virus into the bird. This gives them the virus, but prevents them from spreading it.
2012: A genetically modified cow in New Zealand is the first to produce milk with no Beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), the protein that is thought to be responsible for allergic reactions. Meanwhile, Chinese scientists create a GM cow whose milk includes omega-3 fats, normally found in fish.
May 2012: The US Food and Drug Administration completes its environmental assessment of the GM salmon but delays publication of the draft report until 21 December 2012.
- Ready to eat: First GM fish for the dinner table… (independent.co.uk)
- More Worries Over Fast-Growing, Genetically Modified Salmon (foodconsumer.org)
- Genetically engineered salmon moves closer to FDA approval (latimes.com)
- The Worlds Most Dangerous Experiment (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Genetically modified ‘frankenfish’ to appear in US stores (sott.net)
- Biotech cheers U.S. GMO salmon study (upi.com)
- Super-salmon that are genetically modified to grow twice as fast a step closer to our dining table (telegraph.co.uk)
- Genetically Modified ‘Frankenfish’ To Appear In US Stores (libertycrier.com)