Published: Wednesday 31 May 1995

On April 27, Elizateth Dowdeswell, UNEP's executive director, began the 3rd Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable - Development in New York on a strident note. "if we aspire to greater security, to peace, to a decent quality of life, we know it cannot be achieved and sustained unless it is pursued within the natural capacity of planet Earth," she said, while presendhg the commission's programme for the 1996-97 biennum. The dominant issues are: unsustainable demands on natural resources; unsustainable production and consumption patterns; and the environmental impact of the globalisation of the economy.

There is a case being made to force US pharmaceutical companies to cough up for all the medicinal plants they plunder from the developing countries. According to a recently published UN-commissioned study, African, Asian and South American nations would receive at least US $5 billion annually if even 20 per cent royalty were paid on 1/4th of the sales of medicinal plant-derived pharmaceutical products.

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