drinks. Guaraná contains three times as much caffeine as does coffee, and recent tests at Harvard have shown that caffeine and some synthetic analogs can kill or inhibit the growth of mosquitoes and other insects (J.Nathanson, Harvard, personal communication, 1986). Should further testing prove caffeine to be an effective insecticide, guaraná could become a major crop throughout the tropics.
Development of native indigenous plants, particularly with reference to tropical and subtropical soils, will be beneficial at a variety of economies of scale. In some instances, their development will be small and amenable to utilization by individual farmers or farming groups. On the other hand, there will be instances where development will be large scale and have international implications. From McKell, 1980.
During the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the U.S. community was faced not only with the loss of a major energy source but also with the loss of its most important raw material for the manufacture of innumerable synthetic products. Few realize how many of our everyday products are made from petroleum and petroleum by-products, such as plastics, fertilizers, lubricants, and adhesives, to name only a few. It has recently been estimated that almost one-fifth of the petroleum used in this country is devoted to industrial nonfuel purposes (White, 1979). Between 1973 and 1976, the annual use of petroleum-based chemicals in the United States was more than 100 billion pounds (Princen, 1977), yet the majority of these substances can now be synthesized from plant products (Wang and Huffman, 1981). These so-called botanochemicals are destined to become increasingly important as raw materials for industry.
Until 1985, the reasons for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels were obvious. At present, the price of oil has dropped sharply, and there are those who believe that the heyday of the OPEC cartel is over. Nonetheless, experts disagree sharply about predictions of future price trends for petroleum. Since oil is a nonrenewable resource, and since the largest reserves lie in one of the most politically unstable regions of the world, we should try to reduce our dependence on petroleum whenever it is economically feasible.
Approximately 3 million tons of vegetable fats and oils are used each year in the manufacture of coatings, lubricants, plasticizers, and many other products (Prescott-Allen and Prescott-Allen, 1982). In the past, industrial usage of these vegetable products has suffered from competition with cheap synthetic petroleum products (Wang and Huffman, 1981), but this trend is expected to change due to the uncertainty about the future of the petroleum market. Between 1973 and 1981, the price of petrochemicals increased more than 700%, whereas that of vegetable oils rose less than 100% (Prescott-Allen and Prescott-Allen, 1982). Even in the industrialized world, commercial demand for oils for use as a food and in industry continues to grow, and demand often exceeds supply (Schultes, 1979).