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Nature's ChemicalsThe Natural Products that shaped our world$
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Richard Firn

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566839

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566839.001.0001

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The Importance of NPs in Human Affairs

The Importance of NPs in Human Affairs

(p.13) 2 The Importance of NPs in Human Affairs
Nature's Chemicals

Richard Firn

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how human obsession for certain NPs (e.g. coffee, tea, spices, morphine, cocaine, hops, quinine, etc.) has influenced world history. If one looks at NPs as a group rather than each individually, the importance of NPs in human history is even more striking. Indeed, it is apparent that over the centuries, those rulers who have gained a near monopoly on the supply of certain NP-rich materials have shaped the current geopolitical map of the world. The wealth created by trading in NPs was used to build great cities with magnificent houses and public buildings, cities where arts and science flourished. Even today the legal, and illegal, trading in a few NPs still dominates economic activity in the world. Remarkably, this very obvious fact is rarely appreciated.

Keywords:   Natural Products, NPs, drugs, cigarettes, human economic activity, world history

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