Monday, January 21, 2008

Plants extinction could mean millions of lives at risk

Millions of lives could be at risk because the plants which provide the basis of more than half of all prescription drugs face extinction, a new report warns.

Yew (top), magnolia (middle) and Hoodia (bottom) all have compounds beneficial to health
The loss of plants and trees which provide natural medicines could provoke a global healthcare crisis, says Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

Potential cures for some of the world's deadliest diseases - including currently untreatable cancer - may be lost if the problem is not checked.

In its report London-based BGCI, which links botanic gardens in 120 countries, calls for urgent action to help secure the future of health care across the world.

It says 70 per cent of all newly-developed drugs in the United States, the world's largest and wealthiest pharmaceuticals market, are derived from natural sources and despite major scientific advances, human health is still overwhelmingly dependent on the plant kingdom.

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