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Mitchell, S.A.; Millar, M.; Webster, S.; Ahmad, M.H.
Title
Application of biotechnology in environmental management and sustainable development: Medicinal plant utilization
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Abstract
Environmental management requires that the present generation manage all the living and non-living components of the environment for present and future generations. Therefore environmental management requires that policy be determined, and followed, to allow for sustainable use of the environment - land has to be allocated for agriculture and housing in such a way that the economy grows. Also, land has to be set apart to protect rare plants and animals. Conservation of plants, especially our endemic medicinal plants, whose medicinal use may not even be known at present, is an important component of environmental management. The Medicinal Plant Research Group at the Biotechnology Centre, UWI has initiated a project aimed at developing ex situ and in vitro germplasm collections of our medicinal plants. To date, over 60 plant species are in the ex situ germplasm collection and at least 10 of these have been initiated in vitro. Another component of environmental management is to assess the effect of 'foreign' species on our indigenous plant species. We have been assessing the growth and development of neem (Azadirachta indica) to determine if this plant can be used for reforestation, and in agriculture as a source of medicinals and bio-pesticides, without becoming an invasive species. Many of the plants in Jamaica were introduced originally but none, so far, has become a nuisance. Our research suggests that neem has become acclimatized, and even though it seeds easily, it has not become invasive. Another factor that can affect the environment and sustainable development is the use of tissue cultured plants. Use of biotechnology to develop high quality and sufficient....
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