It's not all about polar bears and tigers
Medicinal plants face an ever-greater risk of extinction, according to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International. Overharvesting and deforestation are putting 400 plant species, and possibly more undiscovered plants, at risk. The group's report said many of the threatened plants are considered by researchers to hold possible treatments for ailments such as AIDS, and that more than 50 percent of prescription drugs are based on plant chemicals. Among the botanicals in danger: hoodia, Autumn crocus and yew tree. The extinction of these plants could "destabilize world health care," not just in Second and Third World countries, but also in the U.S., where 70 percent of newly developed drugs are derived from natural sources, Conservation International says. To find out more, visit www.bgci.org.
A ZENN-like experience
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: the ZENN, a vehicle that never requires a stop at the pump, and outdoes even the Prius on reducing tailpipe emissions. A fully electric car, ZENN is an acronym for Zero Emission, No Noise. Unlike earlier-generation electrics, the ZENN can be charged in just four hours using a standard outlet. And, as the name implies, the car is silent. It's great for quick trips to the local natural products store, sporting a 13-cubic-foot hatchback. But you won't want to take it much farther—it's manufactured to have a top speed of 25 mph and lacks air bags, thanks to federal regulations requiring all-electric cars to remain on streets with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less. For more information, visit www.zenncars.com.
Smile and say 'fair trade'
Fairly traded cheese just hit the market for the first time. Wensleydale Creamery in North Yorkshire, England, launched several fair-trade cheeses in February to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, a U.K. promotional period from Feb. 25 to March 9. The products will carry a suggested retail price of about £1.49, or $3. Wensleydale specializes in blended, smoked and waxed cheeses made from locally sourced milk. The creamery obtained the U.K.'s FAIRTRADE mark by including fair-trade-certified ingredients such as bananas, honey, mangoes and chocolate.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 3/p. 52