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Edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere
Chapter 14: Biodiversity prospecting over time and under uncertainty: a theory of sorts
The notion of biological diversity or biodiversity has now become a fashionable concept. This concept refers to the variability among living organisms from all terrestrial and marine sources and from the ecological complexes of which these organisms are a part (Nunes et al., 2003). Biodiversity itself can be of various types such as genetic, species, ecosystem and functional. The loss of biodiversity is generally considered to be very costly from a societal standpoint and hence many studies have now attempted to assess the economic value of biodiversity (Nunes and Nijkamp, 2011). In this regard, a comparative, meta-analytic review of the economic valuation of biodiversity can be found in Nijkamp et al. (2008). Over the past couple of years, several studies have been devoted to the economic analysis of genetic diversity in the context of the commercial search among genetic codes contained in living organisms in order to develop chemical compounds of industrial and pharmaceutical value in agricultural, industrial and medical applications (see Simpson et al., 1996; Swanson, 1996; Grifo et al., 1997). This state of affairs has given rise to intriguing questions about the willingness to pay by biotechnological companies for genetic diversity as inputs into commercial products such as anti-cancer drugs (see Macilwain, 1998; Sonner, 1998; Neto and Dickson, 1999; ten Kate and Laird, 1999). An interesting recent survey article on the value of conserving genetic resources for research and development (R & D) is contained in Sarr et al. (2008).
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