Keywords: biodiversity, biotechnology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, developing countries, genetic resources
Biodiversity in industrial research and development: implications for developing countries
It is ironic that at a time when biodiversity is seriously threatened by habitat destruction and other human activities, biochemical and genetic ("biogenetic") resources discovered in nature make a huge contribution to the global economy. Yet only a minimal share of the benefits accrue to the countries providing these resources. Why is this? This paper seeks reasons in the ways that biogenetic resources are accessed and utilised by firms developing new high value-added products such as pharmaceuticals. It is suggested that developing countries can expect few substantial benefits from exporting plants and other biogenetic material. Rather, they need to upgrade their science and technology capacities to add value to their biological endowments. It is very much in the interests of developed countries concerned about biodiversity loss to provide financial and technical assistance to achieve this.