Alexander Salomon (
Mon, 09 Jan 95 14:42:34 EST

The argument regarding tissue culture and the preservation of a species has
been an enlightening one. I only hope that it can remain amicable and be car-
ied out on a professional/scientific level rather than becoming overly per-
sonal. Regardless of whether TC can save a species endangered by loss of hab-
itat, it can help save species endangered by overcollecting. I think that the
example of N. rajah is a good case in point. It exists in a so-called protect-
ed habitat and is "protected by CITES restrictions. Because of its rarity,
poachers are willing to risk a lot to obtain a specimen from the wild. So-
called "collectors" are willing to pay a lot as well. By increasing the supply
of the plant through tissue culture and other forms of propagation, the price
should fall and demand for wild collected specimens may drop. With falling
prices, the risks of poaching may eventually outweigh the possible rewards.
Imagine if we had the potential to tissue culture ivory or rhino horn. These
animals might still be threatened by loss of habitat but they would still be
better off without a price on their heads. I think that with TC, we have an
unbelievable chance to make a difference. I know Ron did a lot of work with
VFTs in NC. I go to the grocery store and see VFTs of the disposable variety
and see on a lot of tags that they were grown by TC. It's nice to know that
each one of those specimens represents one less victim of the poacher.
I'm not naive, but I do feel that any little contribution helps. If Andreas
and Uwe want to make a little money too, thats perfectly fine. If they are
successful enough, maybe their costs will go down and they will be able to
increase production further. I wish them luck.