(AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 21, 2013) The nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) is pleased to announce this year’s James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award recipients. The reference and technical book recipient is Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes co-edited by Rainer W. Bussmann, PhD, and Bruce E. Ponman; the recipient in the popular and consumer books category is Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational, and Scientific by Martin A. Lee.
The ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award was created in 2006 in honor of noted economic botanist and author, James A. Duke, PhD. It is given annually to books that provide a significant contribution to literature in the fields of botany, taxonomy, ethnobotany, phytomedicine, or other disciplines related to the vast field of medicinal plants. Among his long and prestigious career achievements in economic botany and ethnobotany at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Dr. Duke has authored more than 30 reference and consumer books. He is also a co-founding member of ABC’s Board of Trustees and currently serves as Director Emeritus.
In 2011, due to the diversity of quality books related to medicinal plants, ABC created two distinct categories for the James A. Duke Award. The recipient of the popular and consumer books category award was Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, and Debora Yost (Sterling Publishing, 2011). The same year, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s Botanical Pharmacognosy: Microscopic Characterization of Botanical Medicines (CRC Press) received the reference and technical books category award.
Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes
This book, a collection of essays published by the Missouri Botanical Garden, is based on the proceedings of the 2011 symposium held in honor of the great ethnobotanist and Harvard University Professor Richard E. Schultes, PhD (1915-2001), on the 10th anniversary of his death.
“If anybody could be named as the father of ethnobotany, it would be Richard E. Schultes,” said co-editor Dr. Bussmann. “No researcher has ever done more field research, more to promote the discipline, and has encouraged more students to become ethnobotanists, with almost every senior scientist in the field acknowledging some connection to Schultes.”
The book chronicles the influence of Dr. Schultes on former students and colleagues and sheds light on his illustrious career and the lasting effects of the pioneering ethnobotanist. “I am increasingly of the belief that Richard Evans Schultes' impact has yet to be fully realized in terms of his historical importance,” said ABC Board of Trustees President Steven Foster. “Roughly half of the chapter authors of the book were his students. Schultes' careful, conservative, high-quality scholarship quietly affected the social and political history of the last half of the twentieth century.”
According to Dr. Bussmann, Dr. Schultes published roughly two dozen books and 500 papers, collected over 30,000 plant samples, and conducted continuous fieldwork in the Amazon for more than 14 years. “[He] created what can only be called the golden age of Economic Botany,” he said.
“The symposium volume, like Schultes himself, is an ethnobotanical treasure,” said Dr. Duke. “My thanks and congratulations to the editors and contributors for a notable symposium we can treasure forever.”
“There is no doubt among those in the fascinating field of ethnobotany that Professor Schultes was the greatest ethnobotanist of our time, or possibly of any era,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal.
“His students were profoundly inspired by his teachings, and many have embraced ethnobotany as their primary passion and inspiration for their careers.”
Many of Schultes’ former students are part of ABC, either as a member of the ABC Advisory Board or a friend of the herbal community. These include, but are not limited to, the following scholars, authors, educators, and conservation botanists, among numerous others: Michael J. Balick, PhD, of the New York Botanical Garden; Wade Davis, PhD, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and best-selling author; Djaja D. Soejarto, PhD, at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Steven King, PhD, of Napo Pharmaceuticals; Mark Plotkin, PhD, director of the Amazon Conservation Team; Paul Alan Cox, director of Seacology; Robert Bye, PhD, director emeritus of the Botanical Garden of the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico; and the iconic integrative medicine pioneer and best-selling author Andrew Weil, MD.
Dr. Bussmann and Mr. Ponman were grateful to be chosen for the Excellence in Botanical Literature award, praising its namesake. “James Duke is one of the most respected colleagues in our field, and has for decades been the leader of the systematization and publication of ethnobotanical information and the phytochemical data associated with it,” said Dr. Bussmann. “He is also one of the most prolific and widely read authors in the field. To receive the James Duke Award is an exceptional honor to both, us as editors, and the Missouri Botanical Garden.”
Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes can be purchased for $24.95 through the ABC e-store or other online retailers.
Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational, and Scientific
Martin A. Lee, who spent three-and-a-half years researching and writing the book, is an award-winning investigative journalist and co-author of Acid Dreams: A Complete Social History of LSD – The CIA, The 60s, and Beyond (Grove Press, 1985). The publication of Smoke Signals by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., coincided with a robust public discussion of medicinal cannabis during the 2012 election season. Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal cannabis, and, last November, Colorado and Washington became the first states to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for personal use by adults.
“When I began writing about cannabis, I had no idea about the impressive scientific data, mainly based on pre-clinical research, that powerfully validates the experience of many medical marijuana users,” said Lee. “Public attitudes reflect conflicting claims about marijuana's potential benefits and risks. There has been a deliberate effort to create uncertainty about what the science says about cannabis. I would compare it to corporate-driven efforts to create scientific uncertainty with respect to climate change. The public discussion about marijuana continues to be haunted by the ghosts of Reefer Madness,” he said, referring to the 1936 American propaganda film that heavily distorted the physical, psychological, and social effects of smoking cannabis.
Foster explained the importance of public education and debate in a time when cannabis is still viewed by many as taboo. “We don't get to the next stage of understanding the phytochemistry, pharmacology, and medical potential, unless we go through a period of social revolt against the way things are and have been for far too long,” he said. “And we don't get there as a society unless we do understand the social history. That is the only way that we as a society are going to move the science forward in a rational way.”
“My exciting, sometimes dangerous, and always interesting career has seen me in the coca fields of Latin America, poppy fields in Laos, and ganja fields in Jamaica,” said Dr. Duke, who worked for several years on a USDA collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Agency’s anti-narcotic program. “Their programs targeted cannabis, the coca bush, and the opium poppy, each with long histories of major medicinal activities. [Smoke Signals] is historically important, but my greater interest is in the medicinal bullets that Lee presents.”
The meticulously researched book aims to help educate readers to understand the long, often-contentious history of cannabis, including its use as medicine. According to the publisher’s website, Smoke Signals “draws attention to underreported scientific breakthroughs that are reshaping the therapeutic landscape.” Medicinal cannabis has been studied as a potential treatment for a wide variety of health conditions including chronic pain, cancer and chemotherapy side effects, and heart disease, among many others.
“I'm very pleased that the American Botanical Council recognizes the importance of clear, incisive reporting about cannabis,” said Mr. Lee. “The plant deserves it.”
Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational, and Scientific retails for $35.00 and is available for purchase from the publisher’s website. An excerpt from Smoke Signals was published in the December 2012 issue of HerbalEGram, ABC’s monthly e-newsletter, which is available online to ABC members.
The awardees will receive the ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award at the 8th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 7, 2013 in Anaheim, California. The ABC event occurs during the annual Nutracon nutrition, natural products, and dietary supplements conference and Natural Products Expo West.
The ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony is underwritten by generous contributions from the following members of the herb, dietary supplement, and natural products industry (i.e., raw material suppliers, supplement and tea manufacturers, analytical laboratories, a law firm, an insurer, a media company, and a trade organization):