Biodiscovery (also referred to as bioprospecting) is a form of prospecting, but instead of looking for gold, biodiscoverers are looking for something of value in biological material. In more formal terms and taking a broad view, biodiscovery is the search for and gathering of biological material that will then be examined for features of potential value.
The discussion document, Bioprospecting: Harnessing Benefits for New Zealand, has the following working definition for biodiscovery:
“Biodiscovery (or Bioprospecting) is the collection of biological material and the analysis of its material properties, or its molecular, biochemical or genetic content, for the purpose of developing a commercial product. Bioprospecting policy excludes the later steps in the chain of product development”.
Biological material for biodiscovery activities comes from one of two main sources: directly from its natural environment (e.g. terrestrial, freshwater or marine ecosystems), or from a collection (e.g. a zoo, an aquarium collection).
- Discussion document: Bioprospecting: Harnessing Benefits for New Zealand [103 kB PDF]
- What is Biodiscovery [37.3 kB PDF]
- Frequently asked questions
Currently, there is no comprehensive policy framework for biodiscovery activities in New Zealand, this page looks at the reasons why the government wants to start looking at the developing such a framework.
Read more about the latest developments in biodiscovery including the New Zealand biodiscovery stocktake and international comparison of national access and benefit sharing regimes.
We send out a regular panui to those interested in biodiscovery policy developments and related issues.
The Treaty Claim WAI 262 and the Convention on Biological Diversity are the two main issues related to biodiscovery policy development in New Zealand.
Answers to frequently asked questions about biodiscovery.
An explanation of the consultation and engagement activity around bioprospecting.