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HerbalGram Features In-Depth Coverage of New York Attorney General's Herbal Supplement Investigation

(AUSTIN, Texas, June 8, 2015) The American BotanicalCouncil’s current issue (#106) of HerbalGram, the nonprofitorganization’s quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, includes a 12-page featurearticle on “The Supplement Saga: A Review of the New York Attorney General’sHerbal Supplement Investigation.”TheNew York Attorney General’s (NY AG’s) crusade against herbal supplements, whichbegan unexpectedly on February 3, 2015, has been a source of much interest,confusion, and concern for the dietary supplements industry and herbalcommunity. The article, byHerbalGramEditor Tyler Smith, details the NY AG’s actions and herbal community’sreactions from early February to mid-May, when the magazine went to press. Theapproximately 9,500-word feature contains 71 references and is currentlyavailable on ABC’s website.Over a period of roughly four months, NY AG Eric T. Schneiderman took multiplesignificant and unprecedented actions against herbal products, companies, andmanufacturers. In February, he ordered GNC, Walgreens, Walmart, and Target tostop sales of certain store-brand herbal supplements; in March, Schneidermanannounced a “landmark” deal with GNC, in which the company agreed to employ DNAbarcoding analysis of all herbal raw materials used to produce ingredients forits herbal supplements; and, in April, his coalition of state attorneys generalasked Congress to launch an inquiry into the supplements industry.Each of these developments stemmed from the results of the NY AG’s commissionedDNA barcode testing of 78 herbal supplements from the four retailers, whichindicated a lack of the labeled herbs’ DNA, or the presence of unlistedingredients, in about 80% of the products. The NY AG’s reliance on DNAbarcoding as the sole testing method has generated widespread criticism from aspectrum of industry experts, botanical scientific experts, and even herbindustry critics.The current issue of HerbalGram also features a summary of two DNA barcoding-related whitepapersissued by a coalition of industry trade groups and leaders of the Natural ProductsAssociation, respectively, by American Botanical Council (ABC) Chief ScienceOfficer Stefan Gafner, PhD, and an editorial on the misuse of DNA methods bythe NY AG written by ABC Founder and Executive Director, Mark Blumenthal, available here.“The HerbalGram article is probably the most extensivepublication thus far that summarizes and documents much of the details of thisstill-fluid issue,” said Blumenthal. “We believe it is necessary to providedetailed documentation of this event not only for the historical record butalso to provide interested stakeholders in the herbal community and many otherswith a comprehensively detailed, ‘go-to’ article that provides a responsibleoverview of the recent events and issues.”Although members of the natural products industry initially focused on theshortcomings of DNA-based analyses for botanical extracts — which still remainsa scientifically sound argument — the community’s message evolved to focus oneducation, transparency, and authenticity as Schneiderman widened the scope ofhis investigation — and signs of compromise have emerged from both sides.However, in early June, as HerbalGram #106 reached members’mailboxes and hit retail shelves, Schneiderman once again asked Congress to“overhaul” the dietary supplements industry. As potential new developmentscontinue to unfold, ABC encourages interested parties to read the HerbalGramfeature to familiarize themselves with the background and scope of theinvestigation.A text-only version of the article is available to the public on ABC’s websiteat members have access to a full-color PDF version at a benefit of ABC membership at all membership levels. More information onABC membership is available here.