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‘From Spices to Vices’: Evolutionary Biologist Noah Whiteman on Nature's Toxins

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Noah Whiteman (Michael Wan)

Beneath the surface of a coffee bean or a red pepper flake or a nutmeg seed — or any of the plants we rely on for medicine, food and drink — lie a “bevy of poisons,” writes UC Berkeley evolutionary biologist Noah Whiteman. But the chemical compounds that treat our infections, spice up our meals and calm our nerves didn’t evolve for our benefit. Instead, plants, fungi and even some small animals produce toxins to defend themselves against predators, attract pollinators and engage in battles of chemical warfare.  We’ll talk about the biology and influence of “nature’s pharmacopeia” with Whiteman, whose new book is “Most Delicious Poison: The Story of Nature’s Toxins — From Spices to Vices.”

Guests:

Noah Whiteman, professor of Integrative Biology and Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley; director, Essig Museum of Entomology; author, “Most Delicious Poison: The Story of Nature's Toxins — from Spices to Vices”<br />

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