Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Bioprospecting :: Geology
Abstract The world's rainforests are host to a multitude of plant and animal species, thus comprising Earth's richest and most diverse natural resource. One of the greatest benefits that rainforests have to offer is its plentiful supply of active compounds, which are used presently in many pharmaceuticals and hold the potential for the next "miracle drug." Bioprospecting is the term used to describe the extraction of natural medicines from our rainforests. Present rates of deforestation, however, pose a serious threat to our "natural pharmacy" and are daily eliminating species of plants that might provide a possible cure. Establishing policies to regulate the bioprospecting industry is challenging, but underway so that humans can benefit from our rainforests while still protecting and conserving the environment. Return to Table of Contents Introduction 2100 AD : It's a horrible situation. Your loved one has been suffering from cancer and there is almost nothing you can do. All possible combinations of drugs have been tried, but still he is suffering from pain. For some reason, medical technology cannot find a way to leave him in peace, allowing him to enjoy his days until he fully recovers. Feeling helpless, you decide to do some research on your own, where you come across a native plant that indigenous peoples have been using for centuries to cure all kinds of pain resulting from various illnesses. This fills you with hope, thinking that you might be able to ease your loved one's pain. Pursuing this line of hope, you consult with some specialists in the medical field, only to become disheartened once again. The plant you read about no longer exists; due to the massive destruction of the rainforests the environment where this plant originated is long gone. 1998: Indigenous peoples have been using the natural resources of our rainforests for centuries to cure a variety of ailments. Medical science is very advanced, yet still cannot duplicate what nature has given us. The simplistic problem illustrated above is very real. Deforestation is not only disrupting ecosystems and wiping out precious animal species, it is also eliminating an enormous potential supply of medicines available in our rainforests. If proper action is not taken today, we will be sacrificing potential "miracle drugs" and losing an extremely valuable source of medicines. Return to Table of Contents What is Bioprospecting? In order to understand bioprospecting, the concept of biodiversity must first be clarified. Biodiversity is defined as "the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region", or "the variety and variability of life.