Biological Diversity as a Source of Wealth: Myth or Reality? Lessons from the International Trade Competitiveness of Products from the Brazilian Medicinal Flora
Waldecy Rodrigues, Jorge Madeira Nogueira

Abstract
A major justification for preserving biodiversity has been its value as an input to medicinal and pharmaceutical products. Some scholars have argued, however, that the potential for new product development did not provide a compelling economic argument for protecting biodiversity hot spots, and bio prospecting alone would not provide incentives for private landowners or companies to protect land for its pharmaceutical biodiversity values. This paper throws some light upon this controversy analyzing bio prospecting perspective in a mega diverse country: Brazil.The competitiveness of the Brazilian medicinal flora chain is examined using foreign trade indicators. From our results a new Brazilian dilemma emerges: on one hand, the country has one of the planets largest biodiversity reserves, on the other a low level of sector competitiveness is revealed. Brazil has been a frequent net importer of all medicinal flora production chain segments, with growing trade deficits as products have higher values added. The medicinal flora productive chain systemic competitiveness basically goes through the regulatory framework and the national industrial and technological policy. Economic incentives are essential so the great variety of medicinal plants can be transformed into high value added products and have a great effectupon the country┬┤s sustainable economic development.

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