The direct harvesting and export of natural products, particularly timber and fish, the expansion of agriculture into primary forests, wetlands and grasslands, and the replacement of traditional native crops with high-yielding exotic species have had severe impacts on biodiversity. In addition, urbanization, industrialization, pollution, mining, tourism, introduced species, hunting, illegal trade in endangered species and the lack of proper management practices have taken their toll.
Biodiversity is big business, and transnational corporations are taking out patents and claiming breeders' rights on plants. The North is therefore exploiting what is essentially a resource of the South, as most of the plant species are native to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Further, the spread of patented, genetically uniform varieties could work against the conservation and sustainable use of plant resources. It means that Third World farmers have to pay the corporations high prices for "improved" varieties. There is a basic injustice. There is also concern that the Uruguay Round trade accord could threaten plant genetic resource conservation and farmers' rights.