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Sustainable sourcing: procurement of natural ingredients from wild collection

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are an important tool to ensure sustainable sourcing of natural ingredients from different perspectives. As demand [...]

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are an important tool to ensure sustainable sourcing of natural ingredients from different perspectives. As demand for raw materials for food, health and cosmetic products grows, buyers are increasingly aware of the need to secure access to strategic resources. Volumes of wild-sourced plant ingredients available to buyers in Europe and globally are diminishing, due to over-exploitation of wild resources and fading interest in the trade among collectors. Standard Operating Procedures help to ensure future wild-availability of plants. Moreover, by improving quality, the consistency in quality and the documentation of products, SOPs can also increase the value of products and offer a better income along the value chain.

Implementing SOPs also help companies to comply with legal requirements. For example, one of the main objectives of the WHO guidelines on “Good Agriculture and Collection Practices” (GACP) is to: “guide the formulation of national and/or regional GACP guidelines and GACP monographs for medicinal plants and related standard operating procedures”. In these guidelines, the WHO describes the importance of following SOPs to comply to GACP. These guidelines have also been adopted in Europe. For example, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) also writes concerning cultivation of starting materials of herbal origin, that “different Standard Operating Procedures may be acceptable depending on whether conventional or organic methods of cultivation are employed”.

Having a basis of SOPs to follow is also important for further processing of MAPs products. Following SOPs can be easily documented which is important as “good documentation constitutes an essential part of the quality assurance system and is key to operating in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)” as seen in EudraLex, The Rules Governing Medicinal Products in the European Union, Volume 4 Good Manufacturing Practice Medicinal Products for Human and Veterinary Use of the European Commission published in 2011. In this writing The European Commission states that SOPs, giving directions for performing certain operations, is one possible instruction type required for GMP documentation. Starting with setting up of SOPs at the basis, will help processing industry to follow GMPs and consequently improve the traceability for the consumer.

However, up to now, little progress has been made in translating Good Agricultural and Collection practices into SOPs for sustainable wild collection and domestication. No guidance is currently available for companies and supporting organizations. In order to create a coherent, overall syllabus for practical use, Klaus Dürbeck Consulting has developed SOPs for all processes and procedures involved in the production of medicinal plant materials based on the principle of GACP.

We are currently engaging a process of public consultation among key stakeholders in the trade to further improve the standards developed according to the needs of different stakeholders: most notable resource owners and users, their supporters, and companies further down the value chain.



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