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AHPA’s botanical raw materials committee now has a sustainability subcommittee

iStock / Mariya Siyanko
iStock / Mariya Siyanko
The American Herbal Products Association, a trade group, announced that its Botanical Raw Materials committee now has a Sustainability Subcommittee “to further AHPA’s ongoing efforts to ensure sustainable supplies of valuable botanicals.”

The subcommittee will be a vehicle for increasing awareness of sustainability issues and best practices, provide a forum to discuss and develop industry-wide standards, and promote existing sustainability initiatives throughout the industry, according to a press release from the association.

AHPA Chief Science Officer Holly Johnson, Ph.D. will act as the staff liaison to the subcommittee.

“AHPA’s Sustainability Committee will work to increase collaboration and engagement among farmers and collectors, industry, academic, government, standard setting and conservation groups to promote the long-term success of the herbal products industry by ensuring that botanicals currently in commerce continue to be available and can be sourced sustainably,”​ she said.

The subcommittee brings together herbal industry leaders to create a sustainability community forum and to identify, analyze, and problem-solve key social, brand, and environmental issues. The subcommittee will work to generate tools and guidance for member companies of all sizes wishing to address sustainability issues and launch sustainability programs.

According to Dr. Johnson, the subcommittee will build on AHPA’s sustainability work by collaborating with other sustainability-focused organizations, supporting ongoing initiatives and programs, and providing educational opportunities.

“We will curate existing resources and explore collaborations, and find ways to assist companies address sustainability and supply chain issues,”​ said Dr. Johnson. “We will also highlight and showcase examples of ethical and sustainable sourcing of botanicals within the industry.”

Some of AHPA’s past sustainability initiatives have included funding researchers at the University of Kansas from 2014-2018 for a multi-year harvest impact study on oshá (Ligusticum porteri​); participating in meetings convened by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in 2004 and 2005 where the ISSC-MAP standard (predecessor to the FairWild standard) was created; conducting tonnage surveys since 1999 of articles derived from U.S. wild harvested plants; and attending CITES Plants Committee meetings since 2004.

AHPA has also worked for many years with member companies to develop free resources to promote industry-wide sustainability practices, including:

  • Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) for botanical raw materials, developed in collaboration with the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) in 2007; revised and expanded by AHPA in 2017, with assessment tools added in the interim.
  • Good Stewardship Harvest brochures for Wild American Ginseng, produced with United Plant Savers (UpS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and maintained as freely available guidance since 2006.
  • Primer on Importing & Exporting CITES-Listed Species issued in 2013 which was included as a formal Information Document at the 2014 meeting of the CITES Plants Committee.

The group will focus on areas where there needs to be more leadership in sustainability and social issues within the industry, developing self-assessment tools, identifying gaps in certification and creating vehicles for AHPA members to engage in forums around sustainable and regenerative agriculture, conservation, social responsibility, and the impact of climate change on the herb industry.

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