Drugs: Bark for Cancer's Bite

Bark for Cancer's Bite

The Pacific Coast's forests are teeming with hidden drugs, including the legal kind. Last week the Agriculture Department decided to allow the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to cut down 38,000 Pacific yew trees for one such substance. The bark of the yew tree is the sole source for a drug called taxol, a promising treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. Despite concerns over the impact of the yew harvest, most environmental groups support the agreement because it specifies that Bristol-Myers will pay for Forest Service research into conservation and management of the yews.

Criticism has centered instead on the sweetheart nature...

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