Fact 1: Mono-cropping is a terrorist attack on soil.
Fact 2: Animal farming is also a terrorist attack for all, not limited to slaughtered animals. It also kills biodiversity.
Fact 3: Cemented urban growth kills biodiversity. Terror? Yes!
Fact 4: We all are sick, of varied degrees.
And here is the research saying that Enhancing our soils’ biodiversity can improve human health.
“If we improve our management of land to enhance the biodiversity in our soils, we’ll improve human health,”
“If we improve our management of land to enhance the biodiversity in our soils, we’ll improve human health,” said Wall, professor in CSU’s Department of Biology, research scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability. Soil biodiversity refers to the variety of life and organisms that exist within a forest, agricultural field, park or even on a dirt road”
It sounds simple, this type of integration, but the concept is only recently gaining international acceptance. The United Nations declared 2015 as the first International Year of Soils to highlight the value of living soils to humans.
People understand that properly managing soils is key for the global food supply, and that soils are eroding. But less recognized, said coauthor Uffe Nielsen, Western Sydney University in Australia, is the role of living organisms in soils, and how management of those organisms impacts the benefits for human health.
The good, the bad and the dirty
In the past, scientists have studied human, animal and plant diseases caused by some organisms that live in soil — dogs get heartworm from infected soils and humans can get parasites like pinworm that live in some soils.
Valley fever, caused by a fungus thriving in desert soils, affects people and can lead to flu-like symptoms and death. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report on Valley fever and its effect on workers constructing solar power farms in San Luis Obispo County, California. The CDC predicted that without outreach programs and more awareness of Valley fever, more workers will be exposed and infected.
Anthrax, which is well-known in the United States as a bioterrorism agent, is relatively common and found in soils worldwide. Anthrax spores can remain dormant in soils for decades, but with heavy rains, they are brought to the surface and attach to roots and grasses, where animals might graze upon them, often resulting in death. Plants also are killed by pathogens, pests and diseases from the soil, which reduces crops and plant productivity.
“Diseases of humans, plants and animals caused by soil-borne organisms have traditionally been studied by separate disciplines, but the final goal should be an integration of research and knowledge, since the ultimate goal is to improve human health,” said Wall.
In addition, research studies have found that exposure to microorganisms in soil lessens the prevalence of allergies. “Exposing our immune system to soil may help develop tolerance to possible pathogens,” said coauthor Johan Six, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in Switzerland.
Soils also contain a reservoir of possible sources for antibiotics and medicines, with many of the antibiotics in use today being derived from soils.
With future predictions that two-thirds of the global human population will live in urban areas by 2050, scientists also expect that our immune systems will be less stimulated by having less contact with nature. Many people already understand this concept; outdoor and nature-based preschools are popping up in urban areas from New York City to Seattle.
Soil biodiversity is increasingly recognized as providing benefits to human health because it can suppress disease-causing soil organisms and provide clean air, water and food. Poor land-management practices and environmental change are, however, affecting belowground communities globally, and the resulting declines in soil biodiversity reduce and impair these benefits. Importantly, current research indicates that soil biodiversity can be maintained and partially restored if managed sustainably. Promoting the ecological complexity and robustness of soil biodiversity through improved management practices represents an underutilized resource with the ability to improve human health.