The value of plants in our ecosystem is pretty much unparalleled. Some plants have over the past years established themselves as crucial components of both the ecosystem and the economic system globally. Here are 7 of those plants we seemingly can’t live without:
It is clear from medical and health reports that tobacco, and products associated with it, have both directly and inadvertently caused drastic and catastrophic health effects on users and passive users alike. Terminal diseases like cancer and chronic respiratory ailments have been directly credited to the use of this plant both on a direct and indirect basis.
Despite all the negative attributes associated with the tobacco plant, it is of important and significant use in the medical research world. This is largely thanks to the beneficial ability to easily genetically manipulate this plant to come up with critical life-saving vaccines and drugs.
If the world’s supply of rice was suddenly cut short, or suddenly stopped, an astonishing over 4billion people across the entire world would suffer the significant nutritional scarcity that would heavily hit them. This is because rice is, in fact, the main source of nutrition to over half of the world’s population. It is unfathomable how much of this commodity has to be cultivated and produced each year to provide for this dependable population effectively.
The plant is cultivated in most parts of the world but is intensely cultivated in Asia and has particularly transformed some landscapes, especially in Southeast Asia. Introducing genetically engineered varieties of this plant has had to be developed to supplement its increasingly stretched production levels.
A lot like its tobacco plant counterpart, cotton is another plant with the double-edged sword properties. On one side, it is among the most important industrial commodities to have ever been cultivated. So much that its impact on slavery decades ago still dogs several iconic events and historically significant observations to this day. This reflects on the historical, and industrial significance among various cultures, that have led to the economic development of entire communities and countries alike.
On the other side, cotton as a plant requires a whole load of pesticides during cultivation for their vulnerable nature. For this reason, cotton cultivation causes pesticide-related pollution around the world, given that it exposes the environment to a whopping 1/3 of the entire world’s pesticide consumption.
Tea deservedly makes up part of the world’s most popularly consumed beverages. Originally from China, the enjoyable drink was introduced to the Himalayas, Robert Fortune, of East India. It would quickly gain popularity and favor among traders and travelers who grew accustomed to the delicious tea-based beverage and has since become a major economic dependant for a significant amount of cultures around the world.
Although the plant was much scarcer and even more valuable during its introduction to the world, its cultivation is relatively widespread and more practiced today around the world. Its cultivation is a dependable and economical way of living for many communities throughout the globe.
5. Cannabis (Hemp)
Riddled with all kinds of controversies and all manners of litigation procedures throughout history and probably through a significant part of the foreseeable future, cannabis has had a profound presence in a lot of the economic,social and medical activities we are involved in. In the 16th century Britain, hemp fibers were utilized as key raw materials in the production of clothes and ropes.
Cannabis has been credited with containing some potentially ground-breaking components, including its cannabinoid drugs, which have been associated with the development of treatments for serious conditions such as cancer and sclerosis. Restrictions have been made to the use of the drug because of the narcotic effects caused by its abusive consumption.
Dating back to the colonial times, this plant has, throughout its history, been used to counteract the adverse effects of the killer disease, malaria. The British crucially used its properties as part of its profitable strategies to conquer colonies around tropical regions in the world, making the territory among the most powerful in the world.
Quinine is an extract recovered from the bark of the Cinchona tree, and its proven anti-malarial properties have made the drug ideal for the global fight against the deadly and possibly fatal disease. Due to the high demand for the drug, genetic engineering of the drug was necessitated to help prevent the extinction of the Cinchona tree by developing an alternative that would require a significantly lower amount of the extract.
7. Opium Poppy
In the mid-1800s, Opium was so profoundly significant that it fuelled the Anglo-Sino Opium wars, which were pegged on the fact that the masses were getting encouraged to indulge in its addictive pleasures to propel the commercial advantage of the plant. The plant’s addictive properties were credited for the influx of drugs like heroin, which is a highly addictive drug.
Despite its addictive nature and its abusive-vulnerable nature, Opium has reserved its crucial status in today’s medical industry through the development of purposeful health medicines like morphine. The powerful medicines made with the critical components of opium poppy are administered on a doctor’s prescription basis. They are issued to ease excruciating pain, consequent of ailments such as cancer.
The world has this plant to thank for the widely used birth control pills. First, capturing the world’s attention in the 1950s when it was observed in a couple of Mexican women who apparently couldn’t conceive due to the consumption of yam. An active component of the plant was synthesized and incorporated into what is now utilized as helpful birth control pills.
Despite the moral concerns raised by different communities and individuals, yam would productively be used for its components for the formulation of the ground-breaking birth control pills that proved to be life-changing for a lot of women throughout the world.