Botanical Gardens Cope With Bioprospecting Loophole

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Science  28 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5381, pp. 1273
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5381.1273

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The majority of an average botanical garden's holdings may come with an economic bonus: Because they were collected before the biodiversity treaty was signed by 160 countries in Rio de Janeiro 5 years ago, they don't come under its protection, so companies may not be obliged to pay a cent to the country in which the specimen originated. Alarmed by this prospect, watchdog groups and scientists worldwide are stepping up efforts to craft regulations to ensure that source countries are compensated for products derived from specimens gathered by botanical gardens. And representatives of gardens and arboreta will meet in Kirstenbosch, South Africa, in September to hammer out a consistent, nonbinding policy covering such payments, which they hope to finalize within a year.