Ensuring the survival of rare plants and animals around the world is crucial for the medical community's efforts to find new cures for various diseases, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner said Wednesday. "Because of science and technology ... we are in a much better position to unlock this ingenuity of nature found in so many species," he said. "Yet, in many cases, we will find that we have already lost it before we were able to use it." The threat of extinction looms over more than 16,000 species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has said.

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