Two sciences, botany and chemistry, have contributed to the current imbalance between rich and poor countries. In the nineteenth century, to bring the tropics into the world market, Europeans transferred valuable plants and established botanical research institutions. Before 1914 tropical economies kept pace with those of temperate zones. Chemistry had an opposite effect. Synthetic dyes appeared before 1914. During the world wars, chemists synthesized plastics, rubber, and fibers. By reducing the industrial nations' demand for tropical products, synthetics retarded the growth of the tropical economies. Yet Malaysia has shown that tropical nations can compete if they invest in research.