Education: Rosy Periwinkle


Rosy Periwinkle
( Catharanthus roseus )

Perhaps landowners and business people might understand the value of at least one rare wildflower if someone close to them had leukemia. Madagascar, or rosy, periwinkle is probably the most important plant to date in the war against cancer. This spreading scrub, with its delicate rose pink flowers, contains the alkaloid vincaleukoblastine. Anticancer drugs, such as vincristine, that contain this alkaloid effectively treat leukemia, especially in young children. If the 104th Congress has its way, the Endangered Species Act may be an endangered species itself. Opponents to the act, passed in 1973, clam the measure does too much damage to landowners and business. However, members and supporters on the Endangered Species Coalition argue that many plant and animal species will become extinct without some intervention. Tom Eisner, a professor of biology at Cornell University, heads the Endangered Species Coalition, he explains that scientists have only studied 5 percent of 250,000 existing flowering plants. And of small percentage ,they found a great number of useful substances for human health.

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