This history of African bioprospecting strengthens understandings of priority, locality, appropriation and benefits. The book indicates herbal preparations and pharmaceuticals have coexisted, as not all efforts to supplant plants with pills since the 1880s were successful. Depending on how widely the plants and related information spread across the world, controversies emerged when multiple parties told overlapping narratives of ownership. Periwinkle, pennywort, and grains of paradise indicate relatively widely distributed plants with many competing popular medicinal recipes within open networks of exchange. This is why it was difficult for activists to get Eli Lilly to redistribute benefits from periwinkle drugs, or even La Roche and Ratsimanaga to pass on profits with respect to pennywort. Strophanthus and Cryptolepis were less widely known, but they did not lead to a discourse of benefit-sharing along ethnic lines in Ghana. After apartheid, Hoodia shows South Africans hoped to close access to information on plants.
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