The future of life

The future of life

Edward O Wilson

Price: Rs 295

Wilson is an expert in biodiversity issues, and has put together a compelling argument about what we should do to give other life on Earth a fair use of its resources.

The book starts with a look at the breadth of life on Earth and then goes on to look at population growth, and what resources are available to support it.

This is followed by chapters on habitat destruction and species extinction. Wilson then examines the different ways of assessing the value of the biosphere for humanity. The final chapter considers what can be done about the problem, drawing on Wilson’s extensive involvement in the area.

An Excerpt

The problem before us is how to feed billions of new mouths over the next several decades and save the rest of life at the same time, without being trapped in a Faustian bargain that threatens freedom and security.

No one knows the exact solution to this dilemma. Most scientists and economists who have studied both sides of it agree that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The benefits must come from an evergreen revolution. The aim of this new thrust is to lift food production well above the level attained by the green revolution of the 1960s, using technology and regulatory policy more advanced and even safer thatn those now in existence.

Genetic engineering will almost certainly play an important role in the evergreen revolution. Energised by recognition of both its promise and its risk, most countries

have begun to fashion policies to regulate the marketing of transgenic crops. The ultimate driving force in this rapidly evolving process is international trade.

In an important first step to address the issue, taken in 2000, over 130 countries tentatively agreed to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which provides the right to block imports of transgenic products.

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