Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Recognize, respect cultural science - scientist

Published:Saturday | October 24, 2015 | 10:00 AMChristopher Serju

One of Jamaica's leading scientists has charged policymakers to put in place the necessary measures to ensure the country can grab its share of the growing global nutraceutical industry, now estimated at US$600 billion.

"We are sitting on a gold mine that we have not exploited. Did you know that we have in Jamaica, some of the purest pharmaceutical limestone in the world? You can literally go and scoop up that limestone, calcium oxide, and we are exporting it cheap and buying it back expensive as antacids. It is the main ingredient there," Professor Errol Morrison declared on Thursday. He was addressing the graduation ceremony of the first group of nutraceutical farmers trained under a memorandum of understanding between the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and the National Commission on Science and Technology at the Banquet Hall, Jamaica House.

"There are so many opportunities that lie in front of you that I want you to recognise. When I say nutraceuticals - the animal extracts, the plant extracts, the minerals - they are there," Morrison continued.

He went on to lament that while some attention is being paid to plant extracts, other areas with great economic potential are being largely ignored. The scientist noted that for decades Jamaicans have accepted without question the word of outsiders about the health benefits of certain products, however, many still remain sceptical about the local 'cultural' science despite its proven effectiveness.

"How many of us grow up on cod liver oil?" Morrison asked.

"It's a nutraceutical. We say it helps the bones, it helps you to grow, it helps the skin and the hair. Where are the studies to demonstrate (its effectiveness)? It's a cultural belief. It's a culturally ingrained behaviour pattern and it is a major nutraceutical that controls some US$48 billion worldwide now, under the generic term of fish oils. And now we say that fish oil lowers cholesterol, prevents heart attack and so on."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com