bioprospecting

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bioprospecting

[‚bī·ō′prä·spek·tiŋ]
(pharmacology)
The search for new pharmaceutical (and sometimes nutritional or agricultural) products from natural sources, such as plants, microorganisms, and sometimes animals.
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In particular, bioprospectors search globally for useful biological resources because they are "the raw materials that fuel the modern biotechnology industry.
For example, if community members are employed by the bioprospectors (as technicians, for example), then they may deserve special compensation for their work.
One could say that bioprospectors who today disregard the CBD are unjust agents, committing unjust actions, insofar as they violate a legitimate social rule set up to prevent exploitation and injustice.
With the advent of genomic and genetic engineering technologies, bioprospectors now have environmentally friendly and economically viable alternative screening tools.
For the first time in history, bioprospectors are expected to compensate source countries, thanks to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), signed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil.
These protests have drawn sympathetic supporters from some quarters, but have also been dismissed as aberrations or deemed irrational by bioprospectors, with whom legitimacy automatically rests.
There, 140 nations signed the Convention on Biological Diversity putting on paper the principle of fair compensation for countries hosting bioprospectors.
This centuries-old knowledge and tradition is now under serious threat; bioprospectors are on the leviathan biotechnology and pharmacological industries, mainly from the USA, have grasped the nettle and are foraging in the farthest, darkest of the Earth.
The promise of life-saving cures from marine species is gradually becoming a commercial reality for bioprospectors and pharmaceutical companies as anti-inflammatory and cancer drugs have been discovered and other leads are being pursued.
People take more material out of the park on their hiking boot cleats than bioprospectors remove," says John Varley, director of the Yellowstone Center for Resources.
In reality, bioprospectors now say, traditional cures using plants and animals are often quite complex.