Bioprospecting--why is it so unrewarding?

February 2003
Biodiversity & Conservation;Feb2003, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p207
Academic Journal
Attempts to answer the question of why large multinational pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies spend very little of their research effort on bioprospecting, or searching for new biologically active chemicals in organisms, in less developed countries, and presents an alternative scenario where current biotechnological developments will further erode the value of bioprospecting. Suggestion that the answer lies in the fact that any chemical (whether a synthetic or a natural product) has a very low probability of possessing useful biological activity; Possibility that given that random collections of synthetic or natural products have a similar chance of containing a chemical with specific activity against any one target, and given that synthetic chemicals are nearly always much easier to synthesise on an industrial scale, it is predictable that major agrochemical and pharmaceutical companies will devote only a limited amount of their Research and Development budget to bioprospecting; Conclusion that there should be no reliance on large-income streams being available from bioprospecting agreements to help fund the preservation of biodiversity


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