Tuesday, 10 February 2015

American Botanical Council Press Release Results in AP Article on NY AG’s Misuse of DNA Technology to Test Herbal Supplements

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American Botanical Council Press Release Results in AP Article on NY AG’s Misuse of DNA Technology to Test Herbal Supplements

(AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 9, 2015) The Associated Press (AP) has issued an article [] posted Sunday, February 8 on the ABC News website and elsewhere online on the ongoing controversy surrounding the recent New York Attorney General’s (AG) actions against four major retailers with respect to selling store brands of herbal dietary supplements (DS) that the AG considers faulty.

The AP article emphasizes the highly important issue of various experts’ questioning the scientific and technical basis for the AG’s announcement on February 3 that it had issued cease-and-desist letters to GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart for selling what the AG says are fraudulent herbal dietary supplement products as determined by its having engaged a laboratory at Clarkson University to conduct DNA testing on the products. The AG’s letters demand that the retailers immediately stop selling the tested supplements in the State of New York.

The AP story is a result of the American Botanical Council’s (ABC)
press release sent on February 3 and re-sent to mainstream media on the morning of February 4.

Last Thursday, AP reporter Mary Esch contacted the ABC for an interview with Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. He explained ABC’s numerous concerns with the AG’s reliance on DNA testing as the sole analytical method, particularly if any of the products are herbal extracts. He also emphasized his concerns that additional testing methodologies were not employed to confirm the DNA test results, and that no other laboratories were consulted to review and/or attempt to reproduce the Clarkson University’s DNA tests – a step that Blumenthal believes should have been required before the test results were used as a basis for legal or regulatory enforcement actions.

The AP article also includes a quote from Loren Israelsen, President of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), an industry trade group (none of the four retailers receiving the letters from the NY AG are UNPA members), who confirmed that UNPA has been collecting samples of the implicated supplement products so they can be subjected to appropriate analyses by qualified analytical laboratories.

Additionally, the AP article quotes Pieter Cohen, MD, of Harvard University, who has been a strongly vocal critic of the DS industry, but who was quoted in the
New York Times article on Tuesday as saying that he had misgivings about the results from the DNA tests conducted for the AG. Also quoted with their concerns about the AG’s relying solely on DNA testing are Nandakumara Sarma, PhD, Director of Dietary Supplements at the United States Pharmacopeia, and Tod Cooperman, MD, of
  1. Esch M.  Supplements Industry Derides NY Attorney General's DNA Tests. Associated Press. Available at: Accessed February 8, 2015.