Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Fresh Look At Tobacco

In the latter part of the last century, George Washington Carver transformed the way we look at the peanut, finding hundreds of industrial and gastronomic uses for it through scientific research.
I believe the time has come to give tobacco the same treatment as the peanut once received in laboratories of Dr. Carver. The urgency is in some ways far greater. Tobacco as a cash crop is under attack from anti-smoking activists for sound medical reasons. Already, medical and agricultural uses have been discovered for tobacco. It might even be possible to find more benign and non carcinogenic ways of ingesting nicotine. It would seem that much could be gained from a utilitarian scientific look at tobacco. A significant percentage of the tobacco crop that is currently smoked might be put into medical, industrial and scientific applications. Genetic research opens additional possibilities for breeding additional useful varieties of this much maligned plant.
An additional possibility would be crop diversification, reaching into the field of ethno-botany. Ethno-botanists have already discovered medically useful plants in various corners of the world. The next logical step would be to match some of these plants to the climatic and soil conditions of tobacco producing regions. For centuries, food crops have been bred to thrive in areas where they originally could not grow. Pest resistance and other factors have also been bred into new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Crops that are well chosen to replace tobacco might even have a higher per acre dollar yield than tobacco, removing the main objection that could be raised to crop replacement.
The time has come to adapt to the public's awareness of the health risks of tobacco as it is currently used. The scientific knowledge exists to transform the adversarial relationship between the tobacco industry and the medical-scientific community. We have already wasted too much time. Let's get to work in the creative spirit of George Washington Carver.

Copyright 2008 By Magdeburger Joe

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