The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has sent letters to a number of media outlets that recently published an Associated Press article about the poaching of wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).
In letters to the editor of the Christian Science Monitor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, and Salon.com, among others, AHPA President Michael McGuffin stated that the article sensationalized "ginseng criminals" and ignored the legal, well-regulated, $27 million trade in wild American ginseng—an important economic factor for states with large rural populations, such as Wisconsin.
The letters point out that at least five states require individual collectors to obtain a license or permit to harvest wild American ginseng. "This year, in Wisconsin alone, nearly 1,000 harvesters obtained the license required, easily overshadowing the poachers featured in the article," McGuffin said.
In 2006, AHPA worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and United Plant Savers to coproduce brochures on good stewardship harvesting of wild American ginseng. These brochures are posted by regulators in many of 19 states from which export of wild American ginseng is allowed by FWS. The brochures are made available at no cost to harvesters and are available on the AHPA website.
McGuffin closed the letters by stating that AHPA hopes that in the future the media outlets will choose to cover the many positives associated with the legal harvesting of ginseng.