Biomedicine: biodiversity’s panacea? Context of commodification
Authors:Johnson, Mari-Vaughn V.
Shrestha, Uttam Babu
Neergheen, Vidushi S.
Malone, John H.
Book part (Published version)
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.
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Biological diversity sustains humanity. It is the nature of the evolutionary process for biodiversity to wax and wane over time, but biodiversity is currently declining at rates undocumented in human history and anthropogenic activities are the primary drivers of biodiversity losses. A variety of solutions have been proposed as means to protect nature and, more specifically, biodiversity. The book you hold posits an idea that may work: the commodification of nature through the lens of biomedical benefits. It remains to be proven whether our decisions and actions will follow this approach and, more so, whether we can pursue this approach in a sustainable relationship with nature, curbing the ongoing rapid species loss while maximizing medical benefits. The challenges are many, cross-cultural, and span engineering and scientific disciplines. The entire value chain iterating between biodiversity and biomedicine requires significant investments of time, money, and expertise if this endeavor is to work. Briefly, challenges include: (1) discovering and documenting species diversity; (2) cataloging traditional medicines developed from these species, including medicinal preparations (e.g., fermentation, desiccation, etc.); (3) assaying genetic and chemical diversity of natural products; (4) testing promising metabolites and other compounds for medical applicability and efficacy (and in turn developing drugs as appropriate); (5) determining why some conservation efforts succeed and others fail; (6) negotiating policies that incentivize and empower local communities to conserve the diversity in their vicinity, while also enacting policies that protect ecosystems from biopiracy and illicit harvesting and trade; and (7) strengthening and developing policy and institutional frameworks to codify and maintain working solutions. Sustainable solutions that bridge biodiversity to biomedicine may include the adoption of policies that shift paradigms around “ownership” of nature and the ecosystem services humans enjoy from diverse systems. Here we provide a context for the concept of commodifying ecosystem services as natural resources.
Keywords:biodiversity; biomedicine; commodification; conservation; decision-making ecological economics; ecosystem services; natural resources; nature’s contribution to people; sustainable development; valuation
- Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation 0657-2020-0004
In: Ozturk M, Dilfuza E, Pešić M, editors. Biodiversity and Biomedicine: Our Future provides. Cambridge (Massachusetts, United States): Academic Press - Elsevier; 2020. p. 525-37.