Reflex: the challenges of biodiversity

© 2011 EPFL

© 2011 EPFL

Globalized insects, standardized cows and beneficial global warming – the EPFL magazine uncovers hidden aspects of biodiversity.

Globalization is radically altering our environment and having a significant impact on species. Reflex goes beyond the simplistic and alarmist message and sheds light on the many scientific, economic and political challenges of biodiversity under pressure.

In an exclusive interview, the French biologist Christian Lévêque dismantles the clichés of nature’s immutability, and raises the contradictions at the heart of the debate on biodiversity. With its Red List of Threatened Species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is based in Gland between Lausanne and Geneva, has become the most influential player in the protection of species.

The notion of species has been radically transformed by advances in genetics. One international project aims to identify each species with the help of a genetic “bar code”, while another plans to safeguard seeds in a bunker in the Arctic. An international initiative is attempting to put a price on the services rendered by nature in order to preserve it more effectively. In Switzerland, studies show that global warming could, in the short term, prove beneficial.

Reflex also went to meet Professor Susan Gasser, an American who manages 300 scientists at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel.

Elsewhere in this issue: surveys reveal the hazards threatening dams, the inside story on the boom in synthetic drugs, and the challenges presented by the new battle for internet neutrality.

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Source: EPFL