Many companies hire ethnobotanists
to help initiate and coordinate the search for new products.
Tales of Shaman's Apprentice: an ethnobotanist
searches for new medicines in the Amazon rain forest.
Contrary to most current and recent ethnobotanists
such as Balick, Cox, Schultes, and others, who take a Eurocentric view and therefore define ethnobotany as plant uses by "traditional" peoples (read "primitive"), Austin includes uses by all local peoples including Europeans.
The fact that Shaman Pharmaceuticals failed as a company, however, has not dampened the enthusiasm of ethnobotanists
who believe that somewhere in the plant world there are dozens, if not hundreds of major plant medicines waiting to be found.
Unlike many well-known ethnobotanists
who evolved into de-facto ethnobotanists
while doing fieldwork, Hinojosa set out to be an ethnobotanist
while studying at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in La Paz.
As a result of this research, ethnobotanists
have recently found treatments for Hodgkin's disease and childhood leukaemia lurking in the chemistry of the rosy periwinkle, a small forest-floor plant from Madagascar.
Brown further discusses the concept of 'bioprospecting'(p.100), according to which scientists from transnational drug companies, inspired by the earlier work of ethnobotanists
, are allowed to search indigenous space on public land for medical compounds in exchange for compensation paid to local governments.
This is what ethnobotanists
do: We dream of eating our way through one ripened, locally abundant morsel after another.
Stakeholders include scientists, ethnobotanists
, businessmen, governments, and environmentalists, who bring different expertise and agendas to bioprospecting and participate in constructing and reinforcing the rhetoric.
Since about half of the 25 top-selling prescription drugs in the United States derive from natural sources, ethnobotanists
can be vital conduits of information.
To really examine the use, mis-use, and/or conservation of plant resources by indigenous populations, ethnobotanists
need to broaden the focus of the questions they are asking (e.g.
The Tarahumara aren't the only people with a yen for plants with a dark side, as ethnobotanists
and anthropologists such as Deborah A.