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Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 68, No.12, pp. 2325-2332, 1996


Preservation and utilization of natural biodiversity in context of search for economically valuable medicinal biota
(Technical Report)

> Abstract
> Background
> Issues
> Recommendations
> Appendices
  1. The Manila Declaration
  2. The Melaka Accord


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.


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