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Bitter RootsThe Search for Healing Plants in Africa$
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Abena Dove Osseo-Asare

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226085524

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226086163.001.0001

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From Plants to Pharmaceuticals

From Plants to Pharmaceuticals

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction From Plants to Pharmaceuticals
Source:
Bitter Roots
Author(s):

Abena Dove Osseo-Asare

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226086163.003.0001

Bitter Roots introduces an innovative new way to think about drug discovery from plants within a transnational perspective. It historicizes the process of drug discovery for each plant in a “metaphorical family of bitter roots” through the testing of popular accounts of innovation gleaned from oral testimonies, scientific articles, and product labels. To compare how people engaged in a common method for bringing traditional medicine into the laboratory, it proposes a schematic of five basic practices used by both scientists and healers. It uses competing narratives for how healers, scientists and others created records, experiments, explanations, products, and harvests to examine differing claims to priority, locality, appropriation, and benefits for each species. Herbal medicine and pharmaceutical chemistry are therefore “coproduced” and have mutually supportive histories spanning continents and centuries. Rereading pharmacological discoveries across nations reveals the interplay between medical lineages and ultimately the multiple benefactors of our intellectual inheritance.

Keywords:   Bioprospecting, Biopiracy, Benefit-sharing Agreements, UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Geography, History, Intellectual Property Rights, Laboratory, Oral History, Traditional Medicine

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