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AHPA to collect data on border activities of herbs

By Clarisse Douaud , 29-Nov-2007

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is launching a program to record incidents of import detentions and other border-related activities surrounding plants used as ingredients in dietary supplements.

The trade association's import detentions database is designed to gather information directly from industry by means of an online form. The aim of the exercise is to bring to light any patterns on the types of products detained, how long they are held, and the direct and indirect expenses of these measures. As such, AHPA hopes to reveal the impact on trade of recent detentions and determine their business and economic effects. "AHPA needs your help in order to populate the database," announced the association. "If you have had a shipment detained within the past three to six months, please download the form and submit it to AHPA." The organization is also calling on companies that do not belong to AHPA to add their input to the initiative. Part of AHPA's mandate is to monitor the movement of herbal products and samples both domestically and internationally, and how this affects both industry and the environment from which these goods come. At stake for industry is a steady supply of safe herbal products, as well as regulations that both protect plant species overly hampering trade. AHPA has been involved in the drafting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and the impact it could have on sustainability and international trade of plants that are used for dietary supplements in the US. CITES is an agreement between 169 governments whose aim is to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Earlier this year the association also released its fifth tonnage survey on the North American wild harvested plants. In it, AHPA brought to light a continuing trend in the herbal industry of the move toward cultivated wild herbs, instead of just wild sources, so as not to deplete stocks.

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