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Public Papers - 1992

Statement on Signing the Pacific Yew Act

1992-08-07

Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 3836, the ``Pacific Yew Act.'' This Act ensures that Federal lands will be managed to provide for the sustainable harvest and long-term conservation of the Pacific yew. The bark of this tree is currently the only reliable source of taxol -- an experimental drug used to treat cancer. By signing this bill into law today, we ensure that Pacific yew bark is made available to companies to produce a drug that has the potential to benefit thousands of patients.

It is very important that the collection of Pacific yew bark proceed with as little delay as possible, because taxol has shown very promising results in combating ovarian and breast cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute considers it to be the most important new cancer treatment drug discovered in the past decade. The Administration realizes the importance of taxol and is working to make sure that Pacific yew bark is available for taxol production.

The potential value of taxol for treating ovarian and other cancers was not known until 1989. By September 1991, 900,000 pounds of Pacific yew bark were collected on Federal lands. This quantity of bark will yield enough taxol to treat more than 12,000 patients, or about the same number of women who die from ovarian cancer each year.

As the demand for Pacific yew bark increases, we realize that we have to ensure a continuing supply of Pacific yew, while not threatening the resource's long-term existence. The Administration has already initiated a comprehensive Pacific yew management program involving the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, other Federal agencies, local governments, and the private sector.

Our efforts have provided an opportunity for the Federal Government and private industry to work cooperatively for the public good. Additionally, our efforts to collect bark from the Pacific yew have brought in millions of dollars to local economies and provided numerous jobs in these local economies.

The Federal Government is already meeting many objectives of H.R. 3836. This Administration is committed to ensuring a continuous supply of yew bark to help cancer patients, while sustaining the Pacific yew for future generations. H.R. 3836 will help us do even more to meet this commitment.

George Bush

The White House,

August 7, 1992.

Note: H.R. 3836, approved August 7, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 335.

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