Nature is of great importance for biotech research.
Biodiversity means the variety in the type and number of living creatures present in a particular ecosystem. Loss of biodiversity has potentially wide-ranging and long-term effects on human health. Additionally, biodiversity is crucial for biotech research. Biotechnologists study living organisms on the molecular level, and answers to many of their research questions can be found in nature. The more nature prevails, the more systems are available to find solutions for the problems we face. Once animal or plant species turn extinct, they never return. Thus, preserving biodiversity is of utmost importance.
Biotechnology depends on biodiversity. Some examples:
- Using bioinformatics approaches, scientists study the evolution and origin of species, and the role of genes therein.
- Biodiversity can be seen as the source of all crops and livestock species that have been domesticated and bred since the dawn of agriculture. Modern plant breeding focuses on increasing pest and disease resistance in crops or increasing the nutritional value of crops. The greater the genetic variation available in nature, the more possibilities there are for breeders and scientists to find traits of interest and combine them.
- 80% of the current pharmaceuticals have a biological origin or are inspired by nature. Some well-known examples are penicillin, aspirin, and taxol for cancer treatments. The search for biologically active compounds continues.
Natural environments of good quality and accessible greenspace provide multiple benefits to human health and well-being. Safeguarding nature is directly beneficial to health, for example by improving air and water quality, buffering extreme temperatures and limiting the spread of infectious diseases.