New letter in Science urges to consider a broader range of chemicals that threaten biodiversity


Environmental chemical pollution threatens biodiversity. In the most recent issue of “Science” international researchers led by Gabriel Sigmund from EDGE and Ksenia Groh from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) argue that the complexity of this pollution however remains insufficiently recognized by decision-makers. Their letter appears shortly before the international negotiations on the “post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”, which is a new strategic plan to guide international policy decisions on biodiversity until 2030. The negotiations will take place from 21st of June in Nairobi (Kenya).

“Although the draft agreement mentions chemical pollution, it only takes into account nutrients, pesticides and plastic waste and thus falls too short,” explains environmental scientist Gabriel Sigmund. Toxic metals, industrial chemicals, chemicals from consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and the often unknown transformation products of these chemicals have not yet been taken into account in the draft agreement. Hence, it does not do justice to the immense diversity of man-made chemicals. These may affect organisms in the environment both directly and indirectly possibly contributing to the decline or even extinction of sensitive species. The researchers call for interdisciplinary efforts and political support to broaden the perspective on chemicals threatening biodiversity and ecosystems.

The Letter “Broaden chemicals scope in biodiversity targets” was published in the June 17, 2022 issue of Science.