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April 8, 2009

Biodiversity, Medicine, and Shakespeare

JAMA. 2009;301(14):1437. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.445

To the Editor: Drs Bernstein and Ludwig1 write well of the need to preserve planetary biodiversity and of the many drugs derived from nature. I was reminded of a passage in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, in which Friar Lawrence talks about much the same thing:

O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities;
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give . . . 
Within the infant rind of this weak flower
Poison hath residence, and medicine power;
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
(Act II, scene 3)

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