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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16-23

Geographical indications for medicinal plants: Globalization, climate change, quality and market implications for geo-authentic botanicals

Sustainability Department, Traditional Medicinals, Sebastopol, California, USA

Correspondence Address:
Josef A Brinckmann
4515 Ross Road, Sebastopol, California
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.15806/j.issn.2311-8571.2014.0020

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Pharmacopoeial standards for crude drugs are established based on analysis of authenticated specimens which should be representative of the quality of material traditionally specified in systems of traditional medicine from species’ geographical origin. This reflects the ‘geo-authentic’ material that corresponds to traditional ecological and medical knowledge. In cases where specimens are obtained from cultivation outside of the species origin, this ‘authenticated’ material will not be ‘geo-authentic’. There is a growing trend for the protection of ‘geographical indication’ (GI) botanicals in the context of intellectual property rights. GI botanicals are named after a geographical area, indicating production within a particular area, quality and characteristics dependent on natural, historical and cultural factors. However, with the globalization of systems of traditional medicine such as Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, Asian species are being introduced to cultivation outside of their geographical origins particularly in the EU and US. In contrast to the Chinese concept of ‘daodi’ and European concepts of ‘provenance’ or ‘terroir’ is the competing trend for ‘locally grown’ herbs, i.e. cultivated closer to where they will be used. Reasons include concerns about quality control, contamination from polluted air, soil and water in some source countries, climate change, supply chain security and traceability, costs of production and price pressure. This review looks at selected agronomic experiments aiming to discern differences between geo-authentic medicinal herbs vs. introduced crops and whether the global market cares to make a distinction or pay a price premium for articles with designations of geographical origin of specified quality. Abbreviations: AO, Appellation of Origin, GI, geographical indication; PDO, protected designation of origin; PGI, protected geographical indication; MAP, medicinal and aromatic plant; TCM, traditional Chinese medicine; TEK, traditional ecological knowledge; TSG, traditional speciality guaranteed.

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