On November 1, 1988, I went to the Secretary of State’s office in Austin, Texas, to file the nonprofit incorporation papers for the American Botanical Council. The initial Board of Trustees comprised eminent economic botanist James A. Duke, PhD, internationally esteemed pharmacognosist Professor Norman R. Farnsworth, PhD, and me. (Professor Varro “Tip” E. Tyler, PhD, became the fourth Trustee after he retired from Purdue University the following year.)
The primary motivation for founding ABC was to create a nonprofit vehicle to enhance the publication of HerbalGram, which, at the time, was a small quarterly newsletter that I had published for five years with Rob McCaleb under the auspices of the American Herbal Products Association and the Herb Research Foundation that Rob founded. The vision was to turn this newsletter into a four-color, peer-reviewed journal/magazine hybrid that represented the best and most compelling aspects of herbs, herbal medicine, and related topics. In those days, mailed newsletters were a common form of communication — this was before the age of email, the internet, and instant access to research papers, news, and other information.
Since those early days, ABC has grown tremendously. In July of this year, we observed the 35th anniversary of HerbalGram. We have initiated many educational publications, projects, and programs to help fulfill our unique nonprofit educational mission. These are too numerous to fully list here, but some are worthy of mention: HerbClip summaries and critical reviews of published studies (more than 7,000 have been published to date); ABC’s “Pharmacy from the Rainforest” Ethnobotany Ecotours in Peru, Belize, Costa Rica, Kenya, and South Africa; publication of the English translation of the German Commission E Monographs; development of the historic Case Mill Homestead for our headquarters; acquisition and expansion of the HerbMedPro database; founding the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program; and our latest strategic venture: the Sustainable Herbs Program. For a more detailed list of ABC’s milestones over the past 30 years, see the fold-out timeline beginning on page 16 of this issue.
My primary feeling about these first 30 years is one of profound gratitude and heartfelt appreciation. Gratitude to Jim, Norm, and Tip for helping establish and guide ABC and for lending their names, time, and energy to ABC. Gratitude to the donors, sponsor members, and all ABC members who have supported our educational mission. Gratitude to our dedicated employees, past and present, who have helped make ABC successful in so many ways — some of whom have been here for 30 years! Gratitude to the ABC Trustees, friends, and colleagues who have volunteered their time to guide and govern ABC. And, finally, gratitude to the ABC Advisory Board members who have provided countless hours of service to ABC and its publications.
As ABC moves into its next decade of service to the international medicinal plant community, we are reminded of our equally important local commitments, particularly with respect to our stewardship of our 2.5-acre headquarters at the Case Mill Homestead. The 165-year-old main building needs repairs, and there is much that we wish to do to enhance our beautiful property. In the coming months, ABC members and others will be invited to participate in a new capital campaign as we seek the funding to properly maintain this special piece of East Austin.
I also extend my gratitude to regular contributor Karen Raterman for her article in this issue on B Corporations, ABC friend and contributor Chris Kilham for his extensive report on sustainability issues related to ayahuasca in Peru, and HerbalGram Assistant Editor Connor Yearsley for his article on a recent initiative for the reforestation of the Indian kino tree. Each of these articles reflects ABC’s continued interest in and concern for medicinal and aromatic plant sustainability, conservation, the environment, and the people involved in supply and production throughout the value chain.
In this issue, we also have included a Research Review of an important paper published in the journal Nature that documents the effects of climate change on plants growing on European mountain summits. Many alpine plants are vulnerable to the documented warming of the biosphere, and, eventually, so are we!