ON MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY
utilization of natural biodiversity in context of search for economically
valuable medicinal biota
In the search for new medications natural products
have proven productive sources of leads for centuries and interest in
them remains high despite the emergence of several competing modalities
for lead substance generation.
The tropical and subtropical regions of the world
are presently the most productive regions for exploration and contain
the greatest remaining known source of under explored biodiversity.
In many of these areas ethnobotanical medicine flourishes and a great
wealth of knowledge has built up over the years. In developed nations
the contemporary emphasis is primarily on individual pure ingredients.
In developing nations an extensive resort to ethnobotanical remedies
exists alongside of western medical systems. However, with few exceptions,
the most sophisticated technologies for exploring and developing these
leads and the largest markets for the sale of the fruits of this work
lie outside their boundaries. This divergence between availability and
the ability to develop provides a fertile area for differences over
the comparative economic value of each other's contribution and has
raised practical barriers to scientific progress.
An intense debate is now raging in which passionately
held and very diverse opinions are forcefully advanced in an attempt
to influence legislation and behavior in the area of intellectual and
other property rights in the context of the search for economically
valuable biota. Various scientific societies, governments, industries
and individuals have advanced their views in an attempt to reach consensus.
Unfortunately, overlapping jurisdictions sometimes
issue conflicting pronouncements and the possessors of biota and ethnobotanical
lore all too often have exaggerated impressions of its economic value
whereas those who wish access to these biota and lore have not always
valued them appropriately.
Biopreservation is also a critical concern. Biota
are being lost at an alarming rate due to pressures of land usage and
the practical difficulties of making biopreservation economically attractive.
Another contributory factor is the destructive harvesting of biota.
The Convention on Biological Diversity, the Manila
Declaration and the Melaka Accord (see Appendix) all address the general
subject area of this document.
Following a request from the Australian Academy
of Science to endorse the Manila Declaration and the Melaka Accord,
IUPAC as a nongovernmental disinterested party among whose accepted
missions is facilitation of international cooperation in chemical science,
has decided instead to present its own perspective. For the convenience
of the reader, the Manila Declaration and the Melaka Accord are attached
to this document as an appendix.