Accusations of adulteration and fraudulent behavior in the wake of the New York attorney general’s cease-and-desist letters telling Walmart, GNC, Target, and Walgreens to stop selling certain herbal supplements are nothing new. Nor is sensationalist reporting that ignores the complexity and evolution of the global botanical industry. The way the press portrays this industry matters. Framing controversies in simplistic and outdated terms—in this case resurrecting the old claim that herbal remedies are snake oils foisted off on unsuspecting consumers—keeps us from having the conversations that do matter, about how today’s herbal supplements do work, how their ingredients are sourced, how their effectiveness can be validly tested, and even how the botanical industry affects sustainable agriculture and economic systems.
Given that 85 percent of Americans reported taking some form of nutritional supplement or herbal remedy in 2012, these are the discussions we need to be having. Understanding how plants work in the human body and how to measure whether they are safe and effective is complex, but efforts are under way to do just that. Contamination and adulteration of herbal supplements are real issues, but good companies have systems in place to address them.
Source: mother earth news