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DESTRUCTION OF THE RAINFOREST AND THE EFFECTS ON MODERN MEDICINES Deziray Swing Modern medicine has turned to old medicines to cure the most tragic modern diseases As has been reported in news reports magazines journals and books most of these cures reside in the rain forests which are being destroyed Central Africas forests are estimated to have over 10000 species of plants Allen 1998 Most of the plant-derived drugs in use today come from only about 90 species says Norman Farnsworth professor of pharmacology at the University of Illinois Chicago Of an estimated 250000 plants most have not been studied for their medicinal value Ditton 1995 There is a duality to the economics of harvesting these curative plants most of them related to greed and other human issues If these curative plants remain indispensable to humans it is imperative that we establish ethical means even pass additional laws to protect them Poor economies in the countries with remaining rain forests are forcing starving natives to cut down wood in the forests for sale thereby destroying what may be our largest medical resource Many estimate that with the daily stripping of the forests we could be losing access to medical cures for all time A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO report states that since the beginning of the century a large amount of the worlds plants have become extinct progressively more disappear every year Over 90 percent of all plant species are located in Africa Asia and Latin America Soke 1996 As a result many groups most of them pharmaceutical companies are making strong efforts to train local citizens in other ways of generating income In their board rooms those companies are designing ethics to govern themselves and the harvesting of medicinal plants Environmental groups work with the native peoples to teach them how to use solar energy for cooking and heat They also work to protect the rain forests
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