Introduction Oil Palm Plantation - One of the plants that care for us Cotton - one of the plants that clothe Us Cocoa - one of the plants that feed us
Tropical Hardwoods - plants we use for construction Poppy - one of the plants that cure us Rubber - one of the plants that transport us Rainforest hardwoods - some of the plants that entertain us

Every day plants play a fundamental role in our lives: they feed us, clothe us, clean us, protect us, cure us, transport and entertain us, and much else besides.

Plants For People explains how plants support our lives in practical ways and traces the plant-derived materials found in almost everything we use back to their origins. It also describes the heavy cost of much of this use to people and the environment.

The book investigates, for example, the real environmental and human price of cotton clothing and household soap, alongside the use of tropical hardwoods and the spread of soya plantations. It considers how patenting is privatizing varieties of our most basic food plants including rice and maize, and looks at how we are changing plants through genetic modification, reducing their diversity in the wild and controlling their production in increasingly globalised markets.

Plants are essential to our lives, and yet the ways we are exploiting some of them is seriously harming people and environments worldwide. This is a book with a mission to help us save the diversity of plant life on earth and to treat as equals the millions of people whose knowledge and services support us each day.

The first edition of Plants For People was written at the invitation of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and published in association with the Natural History Museum in 1990.

The book was subsequently used extensively by the Eden Project during its initial phases, and in recognition of this it paid for research help from Kew’s Centre For Economic Botany for the revised and updated edition of 2003. All images are by Edward Parker©.

I would now like to produce a new edition of Plants For People which reflects the repercussions of our current industrial usage of plants.

The images to the right and left above are links to the different sections of the book.