Avena Consultants recently had our eyes opened to the problems in the botanical supply chain by two of medical ethnobotany experts, Dr Sarah Edwards and Christine Leon at a symposium in Kew Gardens, London. The appetite for plant raw materials for use in cosmetics, foods, herbals and medicines is astoundingly huge! An estimated 50,000-70,000 plant species are used for these types of products worldwide, of these about 15,000 are under threat from possible extinction. It is a little known fact about 90% of the botanical ingredients used to make our moisturiser smell nice, in our prescriptions and our food supplements are not cultivated on farms, but actually wild sourced and harvested direct from nature. All over the world, people are living hand to mouth; going into the forests of Ghana or the mountains of China to pick flowers, dig up roots or strip the bark of trees to sell on to an insatiable global plant market. This market’s supply chain includes everything from; the person gathering the plants to local stalls selling traditional medicines, raw material suppliers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and shops selling cosmetics, medicines and foods to consumers in every part of the world. At present the supply chain is not well monitored or remotely sustainable. It is estimated that 93% of wild harvested Ayurvedic medicines in India are already endangered and this is just one part of a theme of unsustainable plant use. There is a very real potential for entire species of plants to be wiped out unless the message of sustainability is communicated in an appealing socio-economic way to everyone along the supply chain. If you are a consumer, manufacturer, distributor or trader of such products, it is probably time to pose the questions; Are these ingredients from a sustainable source? Are we going to run out of this plant? how sustainable is this product? We recommend checking out http://www.fairwild.org/ an organisaton that certifies sustainably sourced products.