AHPA sets its no-GM policy in stone

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is urging its
members to refrain from using genetically modified (GM) herbal
ingredients until environmental and health concerns can be
effectively addressed.

The trade association's board of trustees has made this part of the official guidance policies that shape the labeling and manufacturing practices of its members. While compliance with these guidance policies is not a condition of membership, AHPA encourages companies to adopt these measures in the interest of trade consistency. The issue of GM foods and trade has been a heated one, with many formulators in the US saying they are beginning to manufacture non-GM ingredients across the board so as to avoid running into regulatory problems in one country or another. Food products sold in the US are currently not required to label the presence of GM ingredients, unless the product has been 'substantially changed' from the original due to the presence of these components. European consumers, however, have long been wary of GM foods and ingredients. In Europe, all GM ingredients must be labeled if they make up a certain percentage of the finished product. This difference in policy has gradually forced ingredients makers in the US to pay heed if they want to be able to sell the same product in different continents. But with initiatives like that of AHPA's the motivation to go without GM ingredients could take on an ethical and health vein beyond just trade concerns. "…AHPA encourages companies that grow, process, manufacture, market or sell herbal products to refrain from using herbal raw agricultural products that are cultivated with GMO technologies, or extracts and natural flavors thereof, at least until such time as the above identified concerns have been suitably addressed,"​ states the guidance policy text. The US has repeatedly claimed the European Union's labeling requirements violate free trade agreements, while EU member states maintain that informed consumer choice forms a crucial part of free trade. If AHPA's position is any indication, it would appear the notion of a consumer's right to information is taking hold in a similar fashion this side of the Atlantic: "…AHPA supports labeling of consumer goods to identify any ingredients that are herbal raw agricultural products knowingly and intentionally cultivated with GMO technologies, or extracts and natural flavors thereof, in a manner that assures that consumers are informed that the ingredient was cultivated with GMO technology,"​ states the guidance. Among other ingredients, AHPA's guidance policy on GM goods applies to substances derived from botanicals, including: extracts from herbal raw materials and excipients; as well as ingredients composed of essential oils, oleoresins or natural extractives of herbs and spices.

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