Dossier: Biodiversity

Dossier: Biodiversity

We are losing ecosystems, species and biological diversity on a daily basis – worldwide and often forever. Humankind with its ways of producing and living endangers the planet’s biodiversity to an extent that scientists are speaking of a sixth mass extinction.

At the same time, synthetic biology and new genetic engineering technologies pose various risks and challenges for regulation. How can we protect biological and genetic diversity? What trends are threatening and destroying our ecosystems? And what does that have to do with global justice? Our dossier illustrates new developments and their background.



Biodiversity: The Danger of Declining Diversity

Gourmets visiting Sylt, Germany’s idyllic North Sea vacation destination, can choose between fresh Pacific oysters and native blue mussels. But what seems like fine dining is actually a cautionary tale as the foreign oysters threaten to overrun the native mussels.

Dossier: New Economy of Nature

How did forests become ‚natural capital‘? Our web dossier illustrates what the concept of the „New Economy of Nature“ stands for and explains nature’s role in the Green Economy and why this approach has been of increased interest to economy and politics recently.

Green Screen Competition
Green Screen Competition
Green Screen Competition

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity is a multilateral treaty. It entered into force in 1993 and has 196 parties.

The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation follows the CBD negotiations and is a member of the civil society network CBD Alliance.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s position on COP14

The 14th Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from the 17th to the 29th of November 2018. The Heinrich Böll Foundation stands in solidarity with Egyptian civil society and will therefore not take part in this year’s COP in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Urheber/in: Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, México. All rights reserved.


Further Resources

Disputed Nature - Biodiversity and its Convention


Species are vanishing at such high speed that researchers are talking in terms of a sixth major mass extinction happening within human history. This introductory publication clarifies the vital development-policy significance of the discussion over biodiversity.

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology (or Syn Bio) describes a set of new genetic techniques for designing and engineering lifeforms for industrial purposes. As an 'extreme' form of genetic engineering, Syn Bio also creates new genetic codes.

So far, there is neither a public debate worth mentioning nor any regulation by law.  This debate is currently very important for the future of food and agriculture where so-called „New Breeding Techniques“ are supposed to produce plants with new characteristics.

We look at the risks Synthetic Biology poses for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and shed light on the controversial gene drive technology.

Just Say No to Agricultural Gene Drives

By forcing laboratory-made genes on an entire population or species, cutting-edge gene-drive technologies have the power to transform entire ecosystems in one fell swoop. But where leading industrial agriculture firms see dollar signs, farmers in the regions where gene drives could be unleashed see a mortal threat to their livelihoods.

Von Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje

Gene drives: Who decides for Hawai’i and beyond?

At this year's World Conservation Congress in Hawai'i ethical and social concerns about the use of a controversial synthetic biology technology were raised: gene drives. This genetic engineering technique has the ability to change the world we know.

Von Dana Perls

Gene Editing and Seed Stealing

At the moment regulations for the trade with genetic material help to safeguard the rights of providers of genetic resources. This could change with the use of digital gene sequences.

Von Chee Yoke Ling, Edward Hammond

Forcing The Farm


This report is being issued as  an alert to governments, civil society organisations and grassroots movements. It points to how gene drives, while promoted as a tool for medicine and conservation, will find their real use in food and farming by agribusiness.

A Bad Bet on Synthetic Biology

Las Vegas seems to be an apt place to launch a risky corporate gamble that could destroy the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers.

Von Silvia Ribeiro, Jim Thomas

The perils of planned extinctions

The gene-drive technology is supposed to enable deliberate extinctions of “pest” species, in order to save “favored” species and stop the global biodiversity loss. The risks are obvious - and the existing regulatory framework is absolutely unsuitable.

Von Claire Hope Cummings

Call for a global moratorium on gene drives

Along with 160 global groups the Heinrich Böll Foundation signed the call for a global moratorium on genetically-engineered gene Drives. Support against gene drives also comes from the German government.

Gene drives have not been tested for unintended consequences, nor fully evaluated for ethical and social impacts.


Outsmarting Nature? Synthetic Biology and Climate Smart Agriculture


Many of the world's largest agro-industrial corporations are pushing forward the poorly-defined idea of "Climate-Smart Agriculture"(CSA) to re-market industrial agriculture as 'climate-ready'. This report uncovers how some advocates of CSA are embracing the extreme genetic engineering tools of synthetic biology ("Syn Bio") to develop a set of false solutions to the climate crisis.

Extreme Biotech meets Extreme Energy


The extreme genetic engineering industry of Synthetic Biology (Syn Bio) is shrugging off earlier pretensions that it would usher in a clean, green ’post-petroleum’ economy. Now they are partnering with big oil, coal, gas and mining interests. This report details this emerging fossilbiotech alliance.

Reckless Driving: Gene drives and the end of nature


Imagine that by releasing a single fly into the wild you could genetically alter all the flies on the planet. This is the terrifyingly powerful premise behind gene drives: a new and controversial genetic engineering technology that can permanently alter an entire species by releasing one bioengineered individual. Civil society groups are alarmed by this newfound ability to reshape the natural world.