Biomedical versus Plant Biological Research Funding

mbishop mbishop at
Fri Aug 19 22:19:43 EST 1994

Constantin A. Rebeiz (CREBEIZ at UIUC.EDU) wrote:
> It is with surprise that I have recently learned that about six (6) billion
> dollars are available for biomedical research while only about 200 million
> dollars are available for all Plant Sciences in the U. S.  Does any one out
> there have a logical explanation for this discrepancy?
> Constantin A. Rebeiz
> Laboratory of Plant Pigment Biochemistry and Photobiology
> 240 A PABL, 1201 West Gregory
> University of Illinois
> Urbana IL. 61801

Biomedical research focuses on treating humans for the most part. 
Plant Sciences focuses on, well, plants. We would rather spend our 
money on our health than on plants.  True, plant research does include
learning how plants can benefit our health but it is indirect.  
Biomedical research includes some research with tropical plants, I think 
(but can't name any at the moment).

The western view of health also influences the direction of money.  There
are two major attitudes or our culture (that is changing for the better) .
1.  "Take care of me government so I don't have to do it myself".  The
governement puts the money where we want it. 2. "Money is more important
than our health".  I am not talking about them I'm talking about us.  That is
U.S..  Many people take care of their car better than themselves.  Many
keeps jobs that are killing them.  Thank God humans are so adaptable and 

Finally, when plant science discovers and begins to isolate active useful
compounds, Biomedical sciencs looks into further isolation, and on how
cheap it is to synthesize.  That way, the process can be patented and
money can be made.  In fact there is no interest by pharmaceuticals to
spend money on research if there is no way to have exclusive rights to the
product (i.e. patented process).  Why? The FDA requires 10s of millions of
dollars to be spent to get a drug approved.  Why would any business waste 
money to do that if it can't recover it because almost everybody can 
make it themselves or at least get it from many peoople that can legally.
See, FDA is taking care of us.  Fortunately, more and more are seeing 
that we need to keep the option to take care of ourselves and we should 
demand the government use our money better by TEACHING us how to take 
care of ourselves.  There is a lot of inexpensive ways to take care of 
ourselves but the knowledge quit being passed down.  "Take care of me 
while I go do other stuff".  

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