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Ethical Sourcing in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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tcm herbs ethical sourcingAs interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine has increased in recent years, so, too, have concerns over the ethical sourcing of the raw materials used in its formulations. Beyond concerns over the demand for certain animal parts, the growing demand for TCM products worldwide has also increased pressure on farmers to meet the needs for raw herbs, which has had both positive and negative effects on the industry. In some cases, farmers have tried to produce ever increasing amounts of herbs quickly, abandoning farming best practices that consider long-term impacts, and harvesting herbs before their peak then selling them as premium herbs. However, in other cases the increased demand for traditional Chinese herbs has encouraged more farms to begin producing herbs or increase their production of herbs, and very often, these farmers employ sustainable farming practices, grow a diverse array of produce and employ traditional farming methods which both produce higher-quality herbs and have a positive environmental impact. It is therefore crucial for responsible TCM manufacturers to adopt and implement transparent sourcing processes to ensure that they exert a positive pressure on producers. This will ensure the quality and long-term health of herb and wildlife populations, and also protect consumers.

KPC Products, Inc. is strongly against the use of endangered species of any sort in all of our herbal products, and is committed to sustainably sourcing all of the ingredients we do use. This article will examine what KPC has done to avoid further endangering at-risk species and the purchasing or using of low-quality or contaminated herbs. Our sourcing model helps identify endangered species, protect these populations, avoid unscrupulous producers and build long-term relationships with verified and reputable ones. Ultimately, this model allows KPC to deliver herbs and formulas of only the highest quality to its customers while also offering benefits to local economies and the environment.

KPC Selects Only Farmers Who Abide by Ethical Practices To Source Raw Herbs We use unapologetically stringent standards to select the farmers who grow the ingredients we use in our products. For example, KP only purchases raw herbs from farmers who strictly adhere to Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) & Good Handling Practice (GHP) guidelines defined by the USDA. Under these guidelines, farmers voluntarily and regularly submit to appropriate USDA audits that verify that their farm products have been “produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.” However, KP goes beyond these audit results and tests all herbal raw materials that we source before they enter the manufacturing process, regardless of their point of origin. In addition to species identification, KP also tests for heavy metals, pesticides, sulfur dioxide, aflatoxins and aristolochic acid — compounds which can be harmful to consumers if ingested. Customers who buy KPC’s herbs always have these additional assurances that the products they buy are safe to use and pose no potential threat to the environment since our growers handled the herbs properly and protected them from contaminants.

KP Maintains Close Relationships With Farms Who Share Its Mission

KP chooses only to work with farmers who share its mission of providing high-quality herbs while still caring for the wider environment, both for botanical ingredients as well as animal and animal by-product ingredients. To ensure this alignment in goals, KP visits farms frequently to verify that growers are harvesting these ingredients at their peak and complying with KP’s comprehensive checklist of farming best practices. For example, KP directly verifies that its farming partners do not use chemical additives to artificially enhance their production. While these chemicals can increase production by reducing the time it takes to get the ingredients harvest-ready, they can also lower the quality of the herbs produced and pose potential threats to consumers if consumed. By working directly with farmers who share our values, we seek to protect wild herb populations and ensure that the highest-quality formulas reach our customers.

KP Never Trades In Or Works With Endangered Species We work to ensure that our ingredients do not come from endangered species, and that their use will not contribute to threatening herb populations or wildlife. How does KP ensure that the botanical and animal ingredients we use are not endangered? We regularly verify the status of all the plants and animals we use with CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an organization that ensures that trade in plant and animal species does not endanger their survival. If an herb or wildlife ingredient is deemed at-risk or imminently at-risk, KP will not use this ingredient in any of our formulations. Instead, sustainable substitutes that provide similar health benefits may be used. Further, the species identification of herbs that KP performs both helps us confirm that our formulas contain the correct ingredients and also protects wild herb populations by preventing the use of endangered botanicals.

KP’s Ethical Sourcing Programs Ensure A Win-Win-Win For Farmers, Consumers and Our Environment

KP’s ethical sourcing initiatives benefit all parties. When a customer buys one of our products, they can enjoy greater wellbeing as well as peace of mind that their purchase has helped preserve herb species and support ethical farmers. These actions not only benefit today’s consumers but also have helped to increase the numbers of sustainable farms producing herbs and contributed to healthier wildlife populations and the availability of high quality herbs for future consumers.

The use of natural medicine has a history which spans thousands of years, and it is within the power of consumers today to ensure that these traditions continue in a sustainable way and benefit future generations as well. You are contributing to this goal with every KPC Herbs product you purchase because of KP’s emphasis on ethical sourcing and farming practices, which allow you to boost your health and sustain the environment simultaneously. As always, we wish you good health!

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