Quality Standards
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Kathy Winter
Posted on: March 20, 2000

For 2 years we have been laying the foundation for a medicinal herb association in Vermont and have received funding to make it a reality this year. We will focus on education and marketing for our members who will be growers, practitioners and buyers.

One of our priorities is establishing and adopting quality standards for all phases of herb production (cultivation, harvest and post-harvest handling, drying and active constituents). I know businesses are developing their own standards in many cases. Are there accepted industry-wide standards yet? Does the Canadian Herb Association have such standards? Would you have a contact for them? I’d appreciate any resources you could suggest.

None of the various Canadian herb associations have production standards in place as far as I know. There are few industry-wide standards at present. Some crops have de facto standards, but none that are mandated by government or industry associations, and few are universally accepted. I would characterize the state of the industry as being very much at the earliest stages of a process toward standards.

At the Herbs 2000 conference in July (in Saskatoon, Canada) there will be a speaker from Europe on something called "Good Agricultural Practices" which is very new to North America. Even if that talk is well received, though, it will be many years before anything like GAP will be commonplace.

For now, the adoption of production standards will depend on forward thinking industry groups that see a marketing advantage to quality assurance. There are isolated initiatives, including one in Ontario, but, again, none that has yet developed beyond the earliest ideas stage.

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