The impact of natural products discovery programs on our knowledge of the flora of Madagascar

Authored by: James S. Miller , Porter P. Lowry II

Routledge Handbook of Biodiversity and the Law

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138693302
eBook ISBN: 9781315530857
Adobe ISBN:


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When the Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force in 1993 (Glowka et al., 1994), it established new expectations that benefits would accrue to countries from products developed using their biological sources. The premise was that the development and commercialization of drugs or other products derived from natural sources, including plants, could potentially provide monetary and/or capacity-building support in a fair and equitable manner. Much of the discussion subsequent to the Convention entering into force has focused on the potential for monetary benefits and for building research capacity through direct contributions and/or training (e.g. Miller, 2015), but another important benefit from natural products discovery programs has received less attention. In almost all cases, sampling for these programs was led and conducted by institutions whose mission is to document and understand the diversity of some major group of living organisms. The funding provided by natural products discovery programs to support field collection of samples for screening thus also resulted in valuable and important natural history collections that have helped advance biological knowledge and in many cases have helped promote conservation. This review will focus on two of those efforts, both conducted by the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) in Madagascar, and will outline how these programs contributed to advancing the biological research and conservation goals of MBG, its local partners, and the Malagasy government.

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