Translations of all Spanish-language quotations are my own.
1. Melquíades Santiago, personal interview, Valle Nacional, Oaxaca, April 1999.
The story was corroborated by Pedro Ramírez and Guillermo Wilkins, former
president of the Barbasco Union and former director of Proquivemex, re-
spectively. I sat in on two National Peasant Confederation (CNC) meetings
in Mexico City and Valle Nacional. In addition, Pedro Ramírez shared photo-
graphs of barbasco meetings, which helped shape the above description.
2. Though weeds are understood as “a plant growing out of place” (Elmer Grant
Campbell, “What Is a Weed?,” 50) or wild plants which grow in “habitats mark-
edly disturbed by human activity” (J. C. Chacón and S. R. Gliessman, “Use of the
‘Non-Weed’ Concept in Traditional Tropical Agroecosystems of South-Eastern
Mexico,” Agro-Ecosystems 8 :1), weeds, as such, are socially constructed.
In southeastern Mexico the idea of “nonweed” is closely associated with the
concept that certain plants that are noncrops still perform a valuable role in
3. Some notable examples of recent scholarship that urges us to rethink Latin
America’s role in modern scientiﬁc endeavors are Julyan Peard, Race, Place and
Medicine; J. Rodriguez, Civilizing Argentina: Science, Medicine and the Modern
State (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006); N. Leys Stepan, Beginnings
of Brazilian Science (Watson Pub. International, 1981); and Juan José Saldaña,
Science in Latin America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006).
4. Cited in Carl Djerassi, Steroids Made It Possible, 34.
5. “Mexican Hormones,” 162.
6. The quote continues by asserting “a statement that is not meant in any way to
denigrate Searle’s commitment to the contraceptive ﬁeld and that company’s
successful drive to be the ﬁrst on the market with a steroid oral contraceptive.”