Chapter 7: The Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of Biodiversity: The Role of Biotechnology and Bioprospecting
Page 104 7— The Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of Biodiversity: The Role of Biotechnology and Bioprospecting 7.1— Introduction As discussed in the previous chapter, biotechnology has the dubious distinction of potentially becoming the source of destruction of biological diversity or its saviour depending upon the attitude taken by biotechnologists and conservationists. In this chapter we discuss how efforts are underway to try and develop projects to conserve and utilise the knowledge obtained from biological materials. While there is a need to conserve biological diversity, it is equally clear that we will continue to utilise it. We owe a large number of products which we have come to regard as essential in our daily lives to the utilisation of biological diversity. The food we eat today is a product of years of experimenting with certain strains of plants and highly desirable characteristics contained in their wild ancestors. Farmers and biotechnologists alike still spend an enormous amount of time trying to improve characteristics such as yield, disease and pest resistance, ability to withstand changes in weather patterns etc. Thus it is clearly in our interest to continue to utilise the benefits of biodiversity. However, efforts should be made to use biological diversity in a sustainable manner, allowing us to conserve and maintain its important uses for our immediate and future requirements. While some estimates put around 95 per cent of the world's biological diversity in the world's poorest countries 145, the main exploiters and collectors of biodiversity thus far appear to have...
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