With each species lost to the mass extinction crisis, the natural economy of the nation and of the world is greatly diminished. An endangered animal may hold the cure for cancer; a threatened plant could someday become a major food crop; and even bacteria often provide novel molecular structures in polymer science. As the rainforest is destroyed and habitats are degraded, conservationists are now urgently searching for dramatic new ways to save these economic resources. In this provocative and important book, Joseph Henry Vogel details one potential solution that has met with increasing interest and popularity: the privatization of genetic information. Vogel cogently makes the case that the world should abandon the doctrine of "the common heritage of mankind" and create private property rights over genes. Landowners, once vested with the genetic resources on their land, will have a newfound financial incentive to protect what they now already control. Genes for Sale provides an overview of the many complexities inherent in implementing a viable conservation policy.
Vogel elaborates both technical issues like the construction of a "gargantuan database" of landtitles and biological inventories, and political issues like legal reform. Clearly written, engaging, and timely, Genes for Sale provides students, scientists, and policy makers alike with the ideal introduction to an exciting and controversial new approach to saving our precious living heritage.