AHPA Requests USDA to Limit New Importation Declarations

In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) requests the Congressional focus of recent amendments to the Lacey Act be maintained on timber species by exempting plants used in or as foods, drugs, and cosmetics from importation declaration requirements established by the new amendments.

The Lacey Act, which was originally adopted in 1900, has been described as the United States’ oldest wildlife protection statute. Under new amendments to the Act, importers of both plants and “products thereof” are required to file upon importation a declaration that contains: “(A) the scientific name of any plant (including the genus and species of the plant) contained in the importation; (B) a description of (i) the value of the importation; and (ii) the quantity, including the unit of measure, of the plant; and (C) the name of the country from which the plant was taken.”

The plants covered by the requirements may include (depending on how the law is interpreted and implemented) any plant, plant part, or plant product, except for those identified as “common cultivars” or “common food crops.” The Congressional sponsors of the Act’s amendments, however, were explicit in communicating their purpose as providing a deterrent to imports of timber and timber products produced from illegal logging.

“AHPA respects and supports legislative and regulatory efforts to control international trade in illegally harvested timber,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “AHPA is concerned, however, that implementation of the Act’s new requirements for importation disclosures, if applied to all plant imports, will result in filing of a significant amount of unnecessary and largely redundant information for non-timber plants and products. We therefore request APHIS ensure that the law is implemented in a way that respects its original scope and places minimal regulatory burden on importers of herbs and herbal products.”

AHPA’s comments are available here: www.ahpa.org/portals/0/pdfs/08_1208_AHPA_Comments_on_Lacey_Act_Final.pdf

For additional information see also the Nov. 13, 2008 Press Release “USDA to Implement Amendments to Lacey Act; May Impact ALL Plant Imports”: http://www.ahpa.org/Default.aspx?tabid=69&aId=494&zId=1

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the only national trade association devoted to herbal issues. Representing the core of the botanical trade—comprised of the finest growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbal products—our mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. AHPA committees generate self-regulations to ensure the highest level of quality with respect to the way herbal products are manufactured, labeled, and sold. Website: www.ahpa.org.

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