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November 2001



The editors would like to apologise for the postponement in preparing PLANTWISE 11 which has been seriously delayed due to a number of unforeseen events. During the recent months Denzil Phillips International has been organising two major international herbal events one in Slovenia and the other in the Pacific Island of Vanuatu. This work coupled with a month long mission to China to cement relations with the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine has meant that there was no time to prepare PLANTWISE earlier. Finally we would like to wish all our readers a pleasant and peaceful Christmas and New Year.


World Bank affiliate to support Balkan herb industry

SEED, a World Bank affiliate dedicated to the promotion of small and medium sized enterprises in the Balkans, has begun a series of initiatives designed to rehabilitate the Balkan Herbal industry once a major source of raw materials and extracts for the EU market. With technical assistance from Denzil Phillips International SEED's first move has been to sponsor a regional herbal forum.

This historic event, which took place at the coastal town on Portoroz, Slovenia from Sept 17-19 2001, was the first time in recent years that all those companies involved with medicinal plants and extracts had an opportunity to sit together to map out the future of the Balkan herbal industry.

Most of the leading regional suppliers attended the Forum alongside some of Western Europe's most important herbal manufacturers and importers. South East Europe has for centuries been a producer and consumer of medicinal plants and herbal medicines. The varied climate and geography of the region enables a vast array of temperate and Mediterranean plants to be grown. A rich medical and engineering tradition has moreover encouraged the manufacturing of a wide range of photo-medicines, perfumes and cosmetic products. During the 1970s and 80s the former Yugoslavia supplied medicinal and aromatic products to a host of leading Western European, American and Soviet companies.

Political upheavals in recent times have severely disrupted herbal manufacturing and trade within the region. Some of the most important medicinal plants are severely endangered due to overharvesting and lack of appropriate environmental legislation. Through this Forum SEED wants to promote fresh thinking and help reintegrate the regions herbal producers into the mainstream of Western Europe's herbal industry. For further information see

FDA cracks down on Medicinal Plant food additives

During the last two years US consumers have seen an every growing number of foods with added herbals enter the market with a view to boosting sales and enhancing the functionality of such food products. Today the US market for such herb-enhanced foodstuffs has been estimated at more than half a billion dollars.

Now after many months of indecision the FDA has finally cracked down on a number of companies using such herbal additives in foods warning them that few such herbal additives have received GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) approval for use in conventional foods. While herbals such as St Johns Wort and Echinacea do not require GRAS approval when used as a dietary supplements the minute they get incorporated into a foodstuff they are termed food additives and hence subject to FDA ingredient safety regulations.

If FDA does manage to ban such products it could have a major adverse affect on the sales of many functional food and drink products such as Cadbury Schweppes "Snapple". Little scientific information exists as to what if any negative herb-food interactions take place. Most commentators indicate that products such as herbal fortified yogurts sell very well with no reported negative side effects. For more information contact

IBC Natural Products 2002 moves to Germany

After the resounding success of Natural Products 2001 in last year the organisers IBC Global Conferences Ltd in consultation with Phytopharm Consulting and Denzil Phillips International have decided to hold their next meeting in Germany on March 18th-20th with Munich being the preferred location.

Dr Joerg Gruenwald commenting on the decision indicated that by moving to Germany should result in cost savings while the location right in the heart of Germany's medicinal plant growing region will encourage many medium sized European herbal and cosmetic companies to attend the meeting.

Natural Products 2002 will be a two day affair with an additional one day intensive training session on the third day. The first day hosted by Joerg Gruenwald will concentrate on nutraceuticals and include key speakers from Numico, Smith Kline Beecham and Martin Bauer.

During the second day, which will be hosted by Denzil Phillips, will be dedicated solely to cosmeceuticals. Here a number of companies that sent speakers last year will be presenting such as R.P.Scherer, Bioskin and Croda Chemicals as well as some important new speakers from Aveda, Ferrosan, Indena and Merck. The programme which is presently being completed will be sent to some 10,000 potential delegates and will also be available on the IBC web site

Italian cultivation of Medicinal Plants on the up?

Cultivation of medicinal plants in Italy has risen to around 3,500 hectares in 2000 reported Dr Carlo Sessa, President of Assoerbe, the Italian Trade Association recently. About one third of this is organic particularly in Sicily which is now sizeable resources into developing organic agriculture.

After Calabria which is the dominant producer of bergamot and licorice , Umbria is the most important centre for medicinal and aromatic plant cultivation. Here melissa,chamomile, echinacea and St Johns Wort are grown. The Alpine region of Piedemont is the focal point of the Italian peppermint and melissa industry with companies like Aboca and Brisghello contracting growers throughout the region.

Italian chamomile production has been increasing substantially, particularly in Umbria, Abruzzo and Puglia. For further information see

Pacific Herbal Forum postponed

The Commonwealth Secretariat recently announced that the Pacific Herbal Forum due to take place on December 3rd has been postponed till February 2002. A spokesman from the Secretariat stated "one of the key objectives of this Forum is to trigger international support for the herbal industry and the present circumstances are neither conducive nor supportive of a positive response and the prudent use of limited resources. A full commitment is desirable on the part of all, particularly key delegates and resource persons."

The meeting, which is hosted by Brussels based CDE, the Commonwealth Secretariat and CTA in the Netherlands, will now take place from 18th-20th February at the same location at the Meridien Hotel, Port Vila, Vanuatu as before.

Delegates are to be drawn from both the private and public sectors including representatives from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, Palau, Marshall Islands, Naulu and Federal States of Micronesia. The non-ACP delegates will include American Samoa, Hawaii, New Caledonia, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia and the European Union.

The purpose of the Forum is first and foremost a tool for business promotion. It will be a forum for discussions among importers, exporters, processors, potential investors, scientists, controllers and promoters of trade in medicinal plants and herbal extracts. The Forum will discuss trade related issues such as non-tariff barriers, regulations and licensing, patenting, standards and quality, market trends and emerging exporters' and importers' concerns, processing and value addition, promotional strategies and market penetration, sustainable use of medicinal plants etc. Some of the following issues to be discussed at the meeting include

  • Scope and importance of medicinal plants and herbal medicine in the region
  • Intellectual Property Rights - Bio-piracy and the Convention on Biodiversity
  • Over-exploitation, conservation, sustainable harvesting, role of CITES
  • Regulatory issues, licensing and changing European Union scene
  • Quality control, local trade infrastructure and common exporter's concerns
  • Training and education needs in medicinal plants and herbal medicines
  • Value added processing, opportunities, technology transfer and joint ventures
  • Research, development and training activities in the region: future needs
  • Opportunities for technology transfer and joint ventures in the region
  • Development of a long-term action programme for regional implementation

Vanuatu was chosen as an appropriate location because of its well developed infrastructure, strong long-term foreign investment interest in the region; accessibility from Australasia as well as excellent hotel and management support facilities. For more information

Ecoport: An essential tool

For those of you wanting to know more about where to grow and source your medicinal plants one of the first place you should go to for information is FAO's Ecoport - and it is absolutely free!

Set up by FAO in 2000 as a by product of its Global Plant Production and Protection Information System (GPPIS) Ecoport is managed by a consortium including FAO in Rome, the University of Florida (UF) and the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution (SI) in the USA. Over 90 associates and 500 editors contribute to the system.

Ecoport first went public on 1 January 2000 and by July 2001, 142,000 entity records were established, including 42,000 plants. There are over 520,000 references, many slide shows, 35,000 glossary terms, 19,000 pictures etc.

Ecoport now holds records on over 400 plants that are (also) medicinal in the Products & Uses Field plus descriptions and pictures and this will reach 500 by the end of 2001. Each entry has an owner and each contributor receives a username and password that enables contributors to write information into the shared database, much as a group of authors write chapters for a book, except that the 'book' we are writing is a public database on the Internet. This process uses methods and tools invented at FAO which allow editors (not only webmasters) to write HyperText directly.

Each contributor's shared information is displayed under a banner and logo that reflects ownership and responsibility, and we clearly demonstrated that sharing and generosity does not threaten identity.

Many of these medicinal plant records need editors. For more information contact

Japanese pharma companies merge

The recent announcement of a merger between Taisho Pharmaceuticals and Tanabe Seiyaku should create a powerful new force in OTC medicine and functional foods in Japan. Taisho Pharma has a turnover of just under $ 2 billion 41% of which comes from the sale of nutrients and tonic drinks. Tanabe on the other hands has a turnover of little more than $85 Million almost exclusively in the field of prescription drugs.

Taisho maintain that the merger will enable them to concentrate on their thriving nutrition business, particularly their highly successful tonic drink LIPOVITAN. They plan to shift their prescription medicine business to Tanabe.

Taisho presently has only a very small ethical drug portfolio representing less than 25% of their turnover. It is, however, the number one OTC producer in Japan with leading brands such as the COLAC laxative product and painkiller NARON ACE. For further information see

New lease of life for Benecol

Benecol, the Finnish functional food produced by Raisco and marketed by McNeil received a new lease of life recently after US medical authorities endorsed the use of plant stanol esters in foodstuffs such as margarine.

Sales of the much publicised Benecol spread have for many months been below market expectations although considerable research exists to show that the active ingredient in these products, plant stanols had a cholesterol lowering effect.

Prior to the recent US announcement McNeil were only allowed to claim Benecol "promoted healthy cholesterol" a statement which most consumers found vague and confusion. New packaging and labelling has been developed which includes the new allowable claims concerning a reduced risk of Coronary heart disease. The number of Americans reporting high cholesterol has risen from 52 million to 65 million within the last seven years.

European organics booming
by Birgit Boor, Managing Director, Bioherb, Germany

Organic agriculture as the term is defined is practised for more than 70 years. Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner conceived of the concept in 1924, stressing that agricultural productivity could be achieved by working with the forces of nature. Similar developments took place in other parts of the world. People were convinced that man depends on nature and thus has to preserve nature.

The 1970s saw the real take off in the development of organic agriculture. New associations established themselves backed by standards and symbol schemes. In 1972 the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was founded as a non-profit federation, representing organisations involved in production, certification, research, education and promotion of organic agriculture. IFOAM developed the basic standards of organic agriculture in order to have a common understanding of the term world-wide. Simultaneously the organic market started at the beginning of the seventies.

Products were certified by the various organic farmers associations. Outlets were mainly natural food-shops. An immense expansion took place since then in terms of:

  • area under organic production
  • trade in organic products
  • manufactured products with organic ingredients
  • retail sector promoting organic sales

The figure above shows the development of organic agriculture in western Europe. Some European countries are supporting organic agriculture by giving subsidies for Ministers of agriculture and permanent secretaries of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) gave a common statement during the BioFach 1998 that they will promote organic agriculture and will collaborate in this concern in future. After the occurrence of BSE in Germany, the German government is highly supporting organic agriculture. The case is very similar in Switzerland and Austria. agriculture has gained importance in modern societies.

Organic agriculture is taught at all agricultural universities in Germany. The University of Kassel, section agriculture is exclusively dealing with organic agriculture. Research and education in organic agriculture has also a rank in neighbouring countries. For further information on organic agriculture and certification contact


    UK cosmetic trade association
    On-line herbal materials trading
    US Food and Drugs administration
    Association of Phytotherapists
    Info on the Drug Information Association
    Nature On-Line
    Wworld packaging organisation
    Herbal retail database

Up and Coming

  • Industrial Leadership for the Preservation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
    Sheraton Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, USA 26th-27th February 2002
    Industry/conservation meeting organised by the Medicinal Plant Working Group with the active support of AHPA , AVEDA, GSK and Fronteir Herbs on the theme of: "Are you using sustainably sourced medicinal and aromatic plants for product development?"
    Speakers from both industry and the US conservation movements will discuss strategy for long term conservation of key raw materials for the herbal industry.
  • IBC Natural Products 2002
    Forum Hotel, Munich, Germany 18th-20th March 2002
    The definite symposium on the prospects and problems of the natural products industry with one day devoted to nutraceuticals and the other to the rapidly growing field of cosmeceuticals and therapeutic cosmetics. Speakers from Europe's leading natural products industry including Numico, GlaxoSmithKline, Martin Bauer, Indena, Aveda and Bioskin.
  • Natural Products Europe 2002
    Grand Hall Olympia, London 7th-8th April 2002
    The "original" natural products show and the leading fair for natural products and organic foods in the UK. Having moved from Brighton in 2000 to Olympia the fair is even bigger and better. An associated conference and product presentations takes place during the show.
  • Vitafoods International 2002
    5th International Exhibition & Conference 14-16th May 2000
    Provides a meeting point for professionals involved in the science, technology and marketing of nutraceuticals, dietary and herbal supplements, ingredients, functional foods and OTC pharmaceuticals. Organised by PalExpo, Vitafoods is expecting over 300 exhibitors and 5,000 professional visitors. It will include some top grade speeches on regulatory problems, marketing trends and technical developments.
  • Natural Product Expo Europe
    RAI International Exhibition and Congress Centre, Amsterdam 12th-14th June
    Geneva, Switzerland 24th-26th April 2001
    New Hope International Media, organisers of Expo East and Expo West, make their first sortie across the Atlantic to tap the relatively undeveloped market for nutraceutcal and health food shows in Europe. The show will be divided into two halls - one for supplements and one for health foods - and will include an extensive conference programme highlighting scientific and marketing issues relevant to the industry.

PLANTWISE is published by Edit UK in collaboration with Denzil Phillips International Ltd.
The publishers accept no responsibility for opinions expressed by contributors.

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