How does agriculture affect biodiversity?

All forms of farming have major impacts on biodiversity, especially when new land is brought into cultivation. Habitats are destroyed and new ecological niches created which allow typical farmland species of birds, insects, mammals and weeds to establish themselves.

Changes in how the land is managed – particularly what crop is grown and the time of year it is sown – make a difference to the biodiversity year by year. Changing the way crops are managed, including for example the use of GM herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant plant varieties, can also influence this. 

Due to the increase in land cultivation, population growth and other environmental pressures, the diversity of plant and animal life is at risk. The 2010 biodiversity target to achieve a significant reduction of biodiversity loss, set by world governments in 2002, has not been met at a global level. Across the globe, natural systems that support economies, lives and livelihoods are at risk of rapid degradation, with significant further loss of biodiversity becoming increasingly likely. 
Overall, the effects of farming on biodiversity depend mainly on agricultural practices rather than on the technology used for plant breeding.