REPORT #378 September 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

This message sent to the Bz-Culture Mailing List from Peter Singfield :

I would like to share this with the list. Here is the biography of a man that stands tall in the world of traditional medicines.

At present I am involved in some communications with him -- and was simply astounded -- not so much by his knowledge - -which is formidable -- but by his attitudes.

Like I do -- he believes in preventive medicine -- the first line of which is proper diet. He also believes in using natural medicines where possible.

We here in Belize are presently embarking on revamping our medical care system. And we are copying on the great failures of this endeavor -- the United States of America.

Yet here is a truly well educated American man that would say as I do -- that we are making a terrible mistake.

I could actually ask this man to revisit Belize (he has worked here before) and help us develop a comprehensive health care program that we can not only easily afford but that would actually greatly reduce our medical miseries.

But what is the point? Belize, that is Belizeans and their politicians, are simply not sophisticated enough to understand the difficulties of embracing American style emergency medicine in a 3rd world environment. They believe what they watch on American cable TV that comes so freely into their homes -- and that mass-media source is all they want to know.

Ten years from know everyone will be wondering just how we could have been so foolish to have implemented this presently tabled national health plan. It will take ten years of death and misery -- at the very least -- before a Belizean can even begin to doubt his cable TV.

We are a very poor excuse of independence indeed. We are independent of England now -- but totally under the control of cable TV.

In the present conversation we are discussing Chaya -- the veritable miracle food. If only we could encourage Belizeans to eat more of this. Mexico, growing ever more intelligent -- especially in comparison to Belize -- ran a public advertising campaign for the past couple of years -- a cute song or "ditty" that encouraged mothers to feed their children Chaya so that they would go strong and stay healthy.

Of course -- this modern Belize is just to smart for that!! They know from watching their cable TV that one must buy "Flint-Stone" vitamins for the children!

And even if we did get a man of Mr. Duke's qualifications down here -- no one would even be able to understand what he was talking about -- as he does not use cable TV english. and when they can't understand something here -- they have the perfect answer -- it is another "con-job".

no -- we can't have a con artist such as this Mr Duke would be labeled coming to Belize and advising how to proceed with a national health care program based on preventing cancer through good diet in the young rather than treating cancer with radiation and chemotherapy!

Still -- we could have built a great and healthy nation -- if the Belizean people had just even a little more back-bone.

As it stands -- one can only agree that Belize gets exactly what it deserves -- always!

The rate of fatal cancers is increasing at a phenomenal speed here. I do believe AIDs will soon be a very minor event compared to Cancer -- here in this "Jewel".

Poor Belize -- it just can't tear itself away from Cable TV long enough to see that the house is on fire and burning up.

As for the rest of you -- that may even read this message from beginning to end -- I strongly advise you look over his WWW site.

Notice that it is sponsored by the United States Government -- maybe not as good as cable TV though -- certainly not in the eyes of a Belizean -- and especially not for our political leaders.



Jim Duke (James A. Duke)
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1929, James A. "Jim" Duke is a Phi Beta Kappa PhD (botany, 1961) graduate of the University of North Carolina. Jim, following military service, undertook postdoctoral activities at Washington University and Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. There he began studies of neotropical ethnobotany, his overriding interest to this day. From 1963 to 1965, Duke was ecologist with the USDA (Beltsville, Maryland), joining Battelle Columbus Laboratories (1965-71) for ecological and ethnobotanical studies in Panama and Colombia. During this formative period, Duke lived with various ethnic groups, closely observing their deep dependence on forest products. The first of some twenty books, his Isthmian Ethnobotanical Dictionary catalogs hundreds of Isthmian plants and their uses. Rejoining USDA in 1971, Duke had assignments relating to crop diversification, medicinal plants, and energy plant studies in developing countries. A popular lecturer on the subjects of ethnobotany, herbs, medicinal plants, and new crops and their ecology, he has taped dozens of TV and radio shows. There is a good biographic sketch in the Sep/Oct-1991 issue of EastWest magazine. The National Agriculture Library has a video history of Dr. Duke's career and development. Duke grows dozens of interesting plants on his six-acre farmette (Herbal Vineyard) with his wife and illustrator, Peggy. On Sept. 30, 1995, he retired after 30 years with the USDA.Before retiring, Dr. Duke brought his Father Nature's Farmacy database online at USDA. It is now, in Duke's retirement, one of the most frequently consulted database with the Plant Genome Project at USDA. The URL address is: Duke has already doubled the data content in the interactive database he maintains as Director, Duke's Herbal Vineyard, Inc. The database is especially useful for determining biological activities and healing potentials of food ands herbs.

Fluent in Spanish, Duke has studied and/or lectured widely, concentrating on tropical ecology, medical botany, and crop diversification. Widely travelled, Duke "cut his tropical eye teeth" in Panama where he was resident from 1966-68. While working on an encyclopedia of economic plants, he has collaborated with the National Cancer Institute on both their AIDS and cancer-screening programs and their Designer Food Program (to prevent cancer). His data bases on the ecology, nutritional content, folk medicinal uses and chemical constituents of economic plants are being widely utilized. Duke's major goal lately is to reverse the disdain for alternative medicines in the US, where, as in the Third World, a larger and larger percentage of the people can no longer afford first-world pharmaceuticals. Duke has a contagious interest in natural foods and nutritional approaches to preventive medicine. Between 1990-1992, Duke was advising the Designer Food Program of the NIH, then under the aegis of Dr. Herb Pierson. Lately Duke has been very active in ecotourism in Latin America and is teaching such themes as renewable rainforest products in the rainforests of Amazonian Peru. He has become an expert in the field of non-timber forest products.

With an aggregate of more then five years in Latin America, Duke has traversed parts of Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guadelupe, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. In Asia, he has had lengthy visits in China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and quick looks at Burma, Japan, Laos and Vietnam. In the Middle East, he has worked in Iran, Israel, Kuwait, and Syria, with quick looks at the Mediterranean countries of Egypt, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. His only tours in tropical Africa include Madagascar, Sao Tome, The Ivory Coast and Zambia. Recently he has been teaching field ethnobotany regularly in Amazonian Peru, Belize and Costa Rica (mostly in the winter) and in the Maine northwoods (in summer only). In 1997, similar tours are planned for Kenya and Uganda.

Jim belongs to the American Botanical Council (Trustee), American Herb Association (Life), American Society of Pharmacognosy, Association for Tropical Biology (Life), Council of Agricultural Science and Technology (Cornerstone Life Member), Herb Research Foundation (Advisor), International Association of Plant Taxonomists (Life), International Society for Tropical Root Crops (Life), International Weed Science Society (Life), Organization for Tropical Studies (Life), Oriental Healing Arts Society (Honorary), Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Smithsonian Institution (Collaborator), Society for Conservation Biology (Life), Society for Economic Botany (Life), Southern Appalachian Botanical Club (Life), and the Washington Academy of Sciences (Life).

Dr. Duke serves as a Senior Scientific Adviser to Nature's Herbs and is on the board of trustees of the American Botanical Council, Director, Botanical Products International (Hakalau Hawaii) and Microbotanica, the Scientific Advisory Team of Shaman Pharmaceuticals (San Francisco), Medical Advisory Board of Herbalife (Los Angeles), and serves as Medicinal Plant Adviser to Reader's Digest and Time-Life. He also serves as an advisor or unpaid consultant to ACEER (Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research), Alternative Medicine Digest, American Health, the Center for Alternative Medicine in Women's Health (NY), Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Center for Plant Conservation, Herb Research Foundation, International Expeditions, National College of Phytotherapy, Rodale Press, Rheumatology Unit (NIH); Supplements/ Dietary Advisory Board (NIH, Bethesda MD), Rosenthal Center for Alternative/Complementary Medicine, TRAMIL, and the World Health Organization (Traditional Medicine Program ). He is CEO of a newly formed consulting firm, Duke's Herbal Vineyard Inc, where he is writing the newsletter, News from the Herbal Village, and raising several specimen herbs for analysis and study. Routinely queried by editors and writers for several different popular and scientific health-oriented journals, and by producers of radio and television networks, both conservative and liberal, Duke recently has given accredited continuing education lectures on herbal medicine, pros and cons, to chiropractors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and physicians.

In addition to scores of popular and scientific articles, Duke has published several pertinent books: (1) Handbook of Legumes of World Economic Importance, Plenum Press, New York, 345 pp., 1981; (2) Medicinal Plants of the Bible, Trado-Medic Books, Buffalo, New York, 233 pp., 1981; (3) CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 704 pp., 1985; (4) Culinary Herbs: A Potpourri, Trado-Medic Books, Buffalo, New York, 195 pp., 1985; (5) Medicinal Plants of China (with E. Ayensu), Reference Publications, Algonac, Michigan, 2 vols., 705 pp., 1985; (6) CRC Handbook of Proximate Analysis Tables of Higher Plants (with A. Atchley), CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 389 pp., 1986; (7) Isthmian Ethnobotanical Dictionary, 3rd edition, Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India, 205 pp., 1986; (8) Handbook of Northeastern Indian Medicinal Plants, Quarterman Press, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 212 pp., 1986; (9) Living Liqueurs, Quarterman Press, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 110 pp., 1987; (10) CRC Handbook of Agricultural Energy Potential for Developing Countries (with A. Atchley, K. Ackerson, and P. Duke), CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 4 vols., 1063 pp., 1987; (11) CRC Handbook of Nuts, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 343 pp., 1989; (12) with Steven Foster, a Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants, Houghton-Miflin, Boston MA, 366 pp, 1990 (13) Ginseng, a Concise Handbook, Reference Publications, Algonac, Michigan, 273 pp., 1990, (14) CRC Handbook of Edible Weeds, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 1992 and (15) CRC Handbook (and database) of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants, 654 pp., 1992 and the CRC Handbook (and Database) of Biological Activities of Phytochemicals (1992), (16) CRC Handbook of Alternative Cash Crops, (J. A. Duke and J. L. duCellier), CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 1993, 536 pp., (18) Duke and Vasquez's Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary in 1994 and (19) Beckstrom-Sternberg and Duke (1996, CRC Handbook of Aromathematics) Number 20, his opus magnum, Green Pharmacy, Rodale Press, is due to be out July, 1997. Currently Dr. Duke, retired from the USDA Sept. 30, is working on three books, Green Pharmacy for Rodale Press, Synergy in Phytomedicines, under consideration by Synergetic Press, and finally, a second edition to the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. After he finishes these, Duke threatens to do more talking and less writing. In 1995 he presented more than 200 lectures and/or guided field trips or workshops. 1996 looks busier. Duke is a regular or occasional contributor or editorial adviser to such periodicals as Alternative Medicine Digest, American Health, Business of Herbs, Complementary Medicine for the Physician, Diversity, Economic Botany, The Environmentarian, HerbalGram, Herbs for Health, The International Permaculture Species Yearbook, The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, Journal of Optimal Nutrition, Journal or Aromatherapy, Mind-Body Connection, Natural Health, Organic Gardening, News from the Herbal Village, and Wild Foods Forum.

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