The 19th meeting of the Plants Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was convened in Geneva, Switzerland, April 18 - 21, both to address issues raised at the most recent Conference of the Parties (CoP 15) and to prepare for the next CoP, scheduled for 2013.
CITES is an international agreement that came into force in 1975 and now includes 175 countries, known as Parties to the Convention. CITES functions by maintaining three separate lists, called Appendices, of internationally traded plant and animal species that have been identified as subject to the protection of the Convention, and the Parties voluntarily take on responsibilities for monitoring and controlling such species. These responsibilities include regulatory controls for both importation and exportation of these species.
"The herbal industry shares many goals with the CITES community," says Michael McGuffin, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) president, who represented the US botanical trade at the committee meeting. "Preservation of plants in trade has relevance not only to governments and environmental groups, but also to herb companies and their customers."
The Plants Committee this week addressed several topics related to species identified as medicinal and aromatic plants. One report provided recent annual trade data for American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) and pygeum (Prunus Africana), among others. These and dozens of other plants in the herbal supplement and cosmetics trades are listed on CITES Appendix II, such that international trade is allowed so long as such trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species. Species in the more restrictive Appendix I may only be traded internationally if cultivated.
The Plants Committee also discussed a policy that exempts finished products that contain certain listed species from CITES controls, and reviewed programs used to evaluate how well its regulatory processes are working for a number of species. It focused also on ideas for building the capacity of countries around the world to make good decisions in implementing CITES rules, and for assisting customs agents in their border inspection responsibilities.
"My attendance at CITES meetings always aims to share industry experience so that pragmatic programs are developed," McGuffin says. "At the same time, I am actively involved in the committee's working group to make sure that AHPA, its members, and the industry at large stay informed about any and all CITES developments that can impact the herbal trade."
About the American Herbal Products Association
The American Herbal Products Association is the national trade association for the voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbs, botanicals and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. ahpa.org.