U.S. Sen. Feingold Introduces Ginseng Harvest Labeling Act of 2004

New Legislation Would Require Labeling of Ginseng Country of Harvest

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and Congressman Dave Obey today introduced legislation in their respective chambers to protect ginseng farmers and consumers by ensuring that consumers know where the ginseng they purchase was harvested. The Ginseng Harvest Labeling Act is introduced as an effort to ensure that consumers can make informed decisions about, and have confidence in, the ginseng they buy. The new law would require that ginseng, as a raw agricultural commodity, be sold at retail with a label clearly indicating the country that the ginseng was harvested in.

"Without reliable labeling, consumers in the U.S. have no way of knowing the most basic information about the ginseng they purchase - where it was grown, what quality it is, or whether it was grown using dangerous pesticides," Feingold said. "We must ensure that consumers who reach for a high quality ginseng product - such as Wisconsin-grown ginseng - are getting the real thing and not a knock-off."

"U.S. ginseng is considered to be the best in the world. Wisconsin accounts for 97% of all U.S. production with 85% of that grown in Marathon County. This has producers in other countries trying to copy our success by labeling their own ginseng as Wisconsin ginseng and then exporting it to the U.S.," said Obey. "The Ginseng Harvest Labeling Act would protect Wisconsin and U.S. growers that are being robbed of market share and would stop the deception of consumers who buy foreign ginseng tainted with pesticides that are banned in the U.S."

Wisconsin ginseng commands a premium price in world markets because of its high quality and low chemical residue. Counterfeit labels and ginseng smuggling have become widespread throughout the world because of the superior quality of Wisconsin ginseng to that of ginseng grown abroad. Smugglers have labeled their ginseng product as "Wisconsin-grown," misleading consumers and undercutting domestic ginseng growers.

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