Podcast: Mark Blumenthal on Preventing Botanical Adulteration in a Growing Marketplace

Podcast: Mark Blumenthal on Preventing Botanical Adulteration in a Growing Marketplace

The Founder & Executive Director of the American Botanical Council reflects on nearly 50 years of industry experience and the advancement of ABC's mission.

By Sean Moloughney, Editor04.24.23
Mark Blumenthal is the Founder & Executive Director of the American Botanical Council, an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to providing accurate and reliable information for consumers, healthcare practitioners, researchers, educators, industry, and the media.

He’s also Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed, quarterly journal HerbalGram—which is celebrating its 40th year in 2023—and HerbClip, which provides summaries and critical reviews of articles covering research, regulation, marketing, and more.

Additionally, Blumenthal is Director of the Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), which has completed and published its “Best Practices SOP for the Disposal/Destruction of Irreparably Defective Articles,” aka “Burn It, Don’t Return It.” This is a voluntary standards initiative meant to assist buyers to remove ingredients from the supply chain if those articles are deemed by analytical lab testing to be “irreparably defective,” meaning they can’t be reconditioned or remediated for lawful use, and therefore should not be returned to the supplier.

Alongside ABC, two other leading nonprofit organizations—the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) and the University of Mississippi's National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR)—initiated BAPP as a large-scale program to educate members of the herbal and dietary supplement industry about ingredient and product adulteration.

Here are some notes on the topics we asked Mark about ...

Q: You’ve been a leading advocate and a central pillar of the herbs and medicinal plants market for nearly 50 years. Where did this interest stem from? What influenced you and guided you on this path?

Q: This summer marks 40 years since the first issue of Herbalgram. This started off as a newsletter called Herb News that you published for colleagues, allied industries, and health professionals. How do you reflect on those early days? What was the environment like? 

Q: Now in its 35th year, ABC is positioned as a trusted, educational source of information about herbal medicine. How have you and the organization evolved to meet your mission and realize your vision? 

Q: What kind of feedback and buy-in have you gotten from stakeholders on the “Burn It, Don’t Return It” SOP?

Q: BAPP recently had a paper published in the Journal of Natural Products that reviewed the ways in which fraudsters attempt to overcome common analytical methods and third-party quality control labs. This article draws from all the work BAPP has done over the past 12 years. What are some high-level takeaways you can share from this review and the work that BAPP has done to date?

Q: U.S. sales of herbal dietary supplements totaled $12.350 billion in 2021, according to ABC’s 2021 Herb Market Report, growing by more than $1 billion at 9.7% compared to the previous year. Most seem to agree that consumers are more focused on health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Big picture, what’s your assessment of market growth and consumer demand?

Q: Elderberry was the top selling herbal supplement in mainstream retail for the 2nd year in a row, although sales declined slightly to about $273.7 million. And Ashwagandha sales growth is really off the chart, growing 225.9% to about $92 million. What do you make of these trends for these two herbal products, and how do you assess the supply and demand dynamics?

Q: What do you think about the pace, evolution and advancement of science and research in this field?

Q: The Biden Administration has been focused on advancing biotechnology. What’s your understanding and assessment of synthetic biology, what that means from a definition standpoint, it’s potential for disruption, and its role in innovation

Q: What’s your impression of artificial intelligence (AI) and its application? Do you see a window through which AI can open up a new realm of scientific understanding and discovery? Or do you think it’s more likely we’re heading toward Judgement Day?
Related Searches:
Suggested For You

Related Breaking News

    Loading, Please Wait..