Herbal medicine industry threatens future of thousands of wild plants
- By: Clare Hughes
The rapidly growing herbal medicine industry is threatening thousands of plant species around the world, according to a report by Plantlife International. About 35 000 plants are used medicinally worldwide, and there are fears that between 4000 and 10 000 species may now be endangered.
Alan Hamilton of the World Wildlife Fund said, “We have concerns about biological and cultural loss, and about loss of local knowledge--we can learn a lot about the natural world from plants.” Other dangers include genetic erosion of populations and degradation of habitats.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80% of the world's population relies primarily on herbal medicines. More than a quarter of people in Britain regularly use herbal medicine.
Plantlife International claims that only six of the 17 herbal companies in the United Kingdom harvest any of their own plants; the remainder use wild plants.
Hamilton said, “If plants are collected