Natural Products Day Features Lobbying on Herbal Testing, Other Issues

Washington, D.C.—The scaffolding surrounding the U.S. Capitol building’s dome, part of an ongoing restoration, served as a fitting backdrop for the 18th annual Natural Products Day, hosted on March 24 by the Natural Product Association (NPA). Like the dome project, the industry’s efforts on Capitol Hill are meant to build strength and stability, and for that much support is needed.

This year’s event included meetings attended by retailers, suppliers and other natural products stakeholders at the offices of over 90 members of Congress. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s high profile investigations of the herbal supplements industry were high on the docket in these discussions, along with a host of other topics related to current or potential legislation. These included the need to defend and define certified organic food’s status as non-GMO in any future legislation, and a plea about overly burdensome requirements placed on supplement companies by the Federal Trade Commission. The industry also asked that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) be held accountable in the enforcement of existing dietary supplement regulations. NPA members staked a position in favor of good manufacturing practice regulations for the cosmetic industry, and in support of FDA defining the term “natural” for personal care products.

One of the arguments against the attorney general’s actions was that he lacks clear authority to regulate the dietary supplements industry, as opposed to FDA which does have that authority. NPA also voiced its concerns to legislators and their staffers that the testing methodology used in these herbal supplement investigations was flawed and that the attorney general’s office has not been transparent about the study data.

The event included its customary breakfast and advocacy training session prior to the day of lobbying, as well as an evening reception for both NPA attendees and industry supporters in Congress. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) voiced his continued support for the natural products industry in the face of misinformation. “Senator Hatch would lay down in front a train to protect his bill,” said Chris Campbell, Republican staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, about the senator’s dedication to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which he helped pass. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KA) also attended the reception and spoke positively about the industry

Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., CEO and executive director of NPA, urged people to get involved, saying, “Events like Natural Products Day aren’t the only opportunity to raise your voice—by playing a role in NPA’s grassroots efforts, and encouraging others to do the same, you help solidify this industry as one with strength.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2015 (online 4/3/2015)