ABC bolsters traceability efforts with Sustainable Herbs Program partnership

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

The American Botanical Council has partnered with a noted documentary filmmaker to support the Sustainable Herb Program, which aims to foster transparency and traceability in the sourcing of the raw materials for increasingly popular herbal products.

The program was founded by Ann Armbrecht, PhD, who co-produced an award-winning documentary film titled “Numen: The Nature of Plants.”​  Ambrecht’s film, which was made with the with her husband, Terrence Youk, celebrated the healing power of plants and traditional Western herbalism.  It was based in part on her doctoral work in Nepal.

While making the film, Ambrecht said she saw a disconnect between the popularity of the products on the shelf and what the impacts of sourcing the raw material looked like on the local level.

Sourcing disconnect

“It is difficult to see the impacts of producing most of the products on which we depend. I created the Sustainable Herbs Project to tell the stories of the people and places behind the herbal remedies on the shelf in order to see those impacts. My goal in sharing these stories is to launch a consumer movement supporting high-quality herbal remedies, sustainable and ethical sourcing, and greater transparency,”​ Ambrecht said.

She launched her project, originally called the Sustainable Herbs Project, with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign.  That helped fund the launch of the SHP website.

The SHP mission fits in perfectly with ABC’s goals, said founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal.

“ABC is profoundly grateful to Dr. Ann Armbrecht for her initiative to create and foster the initial ‘Sustainable Herbs Project’ website. We also appreciate that she chose to partner with ABC. Our new partnership intends to energize and take the renamed ‘Sustainable Herbs Program’ to a new level of educational and inspirational engagement with the global medicinal plant community,”​ he said.

Informative videos

The SHP website​ features a number of informative videos on botanical ingredient sourcing. Among the experts who Ambrecht interviewed for the program were Josef Brinckmann of Traditional Medicinals and Sebastian Pole of the United Kingdom-based Pukka Herbs.

“In addition to focusing on supply chain sustainability, SHP will also provide herb businesses access to resources to become more sustainable in their warehousing, processing, and administrative operations,”​ Blumenthal said. “This is part of our ‘education and inspiration’ goal. We want to inspire and stimulate more awareness of sustainable activities in the herb industry at all levels of operation.”

According to ABC, 17 companies or organizations have already stepped forward to offer support for the program. They are:

Ingredient suppliers​: Applied Food Sciences, Euromed, Indena, RFI, Valensa, and Verdure Sciences

Herbal product manufacturers​: doTERRA, EuroPharma/Terry Naturally, FoodState/MegaFood, Gaia Herbs, HumanN, Nature’s Way, New Chapter, NOW Foods, Standard Process, and Thorne

Industry organization​: United Natural Products Alliance

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