Earthly Goods: Medicine-Hunting in the Rainforest

Christopher Joyce, Author
Christopher Joyce, Author Little Brown and Company $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-47408-5
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Joyce (coauthor of Witnesses from the Grave ) here presents not another jeremiad about the disappearing rainforests but a series of case studies and personality profiles of botanists that make the point in more immediate terms, including the First World's most immediate term of all--money, in the form of profits to be made from the latent medicine chest that rings the equator. In this pharmaceutical treasure trove, ``biodiversity is run amok,'' stresses the author. He sets out to explain a ``radical experiment'' whose goal is ``to change the way people search for and test potential new medicines while at the same time preserving the world's great forests by showing how much more valuable they are standing than cut.'' Joyce credits the reader with having already absorbed some of the basic dimensions of the crisis and with wanting a more sophisticated, mostly botanical view of it. He has just a little time for ethnobotany and shamans, and his treatment of international pharmaceutical market forces is welcome. (July)
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