If Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has his way, some developing nations will create an OPEC-like cartel to protect plants and animals from exploitation by the industrialized world. Speaking earlier this week at the close of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Chavez said, “If these [developed] countries carry off a medical formula from some jungle … they should be authorized by the respective country and by the local community.” He described the cooperative efforts of 12 countries to protect their biodiversity and ensure that profits made by corporations taking advantage of rare species stayed in developing nations. The countries in question — Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, and Venezuela — have banded together to form what they call a “like-minded group of mega-diverse states.” Mega-diverse, indeed: As a group, the nations are home to 70 percent of the world’s species. By joining forces, the countries hope to be able to set both standard practices and higher prices for pharmaceutical companies and other industries hoping to exploit the biodiversity.
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