How bioprospecting became biomining.

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.

Bioprospecting. One of the great buzzwords of economic conservation–the movement to assign economic value to natural systems such that we could justify their protection on a pragmatic basis. Our definitions were soft. A shark was worth $1 million to tourism. A wetland provided $12 billion in services. And, most persuasively, biodiversity retention could lead to $100 trillion in new drug discoveries. Economic conservation provided a huge, pragmatic incentive and allowed us to protect vast swaths of ocean.

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that once you hang conservation on the economic value of nature, as soon as the value of exploitation exceeds the conservation value, the system fails.

Bioprospecting was that tipping point.

We live in a post-antibiotic world. Microbes adapt to medicine almost as quickly as new drugs are discovered. A huge proportion of medical funding is now dedicated exclusively to exploration for the sole purpose of discovering new novel antibiotics, anti-microbials, and viracides that can stem the tides of Massively Resistant Vectors (often anthropomorphized as Merv by medical professionals) for a few more months. This enhanced exploration has led to an entirely new industry–Biomining. Read More