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Scientists warn plant knowledge lost as botany studies drop

Scientists warn plant knowledge lost as botany studies drop

MOUNT IDA: Scientists are warning that the plant world could become a virtual mystery in the coming decades as college students increasingly shy away from studying botany and universities across the US shutter their long-standing collections of plant species.

Since 1988, the number of research universities offering botany degrees has dropped by half, according to National Science Foundation research funding statistics.

The National Centre for Education Statistics reports that fewer than 400 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral botany degrees were awarded in 2012.

Educators say that’s because students are being pushed into more modern, technology-related majors.

Botanists fear that will lead to a shortage of people able to teach about, identify and use plants, which could harm conservation efforts and even the ability to develop alternate fuels and important medicines.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2015

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