Biotic resources are under all kinds of old and new threats. Ecosystem transformation in many areas of high biodiversity has not diminished, in spite of national and international meetings, agreements, and discussions. The main reasons to protect these resources are that little information is available on those we know exist and that the great majority of resources are yet to be discovered. One argument used to convince the general public and governments of the need to preserve biological resources is that there are many potential uses of unknown plants, animals, or micro organisms: New medicines, foods, chemicals, and genes are there to be discovered. Unfortunately, this argument has been overused and, as a result, has created unrealistic expectations of great riches and spurred stringent legal measures to restrict biodiversity research. The limits placed on bio diversity research and on access to biological resources are becoming a major obstacle to scientific discovery. Major projects have been suspended following unjustified criticisms. In this article, I discuss possible explanations for this problem and present some possible solutions.
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Vol. 54 • No. 3