Growing North Carolina’s Botanical Industry

Besides preserving North Carolina's native and medicinal plants, another project the North Carolina Arboretum and its Bent Creek Germplasm Repository are working on is the growth of the state’s natural products industry.

Together, they have formed the US Botanical Safety Laboratory.

Authenticating natural productsIt’s designed to help herbal, organic and natural products industries validate their products. 

Here’s the challenge. 

While the federal Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines and regulations for foods and drugs, until now there has been very little regulation of the natural products industry. That has led to dangerous interactions for patients who decide to mix natural supplements with prescription drugs. It has also led consumers to question that just because a company says its product is “all natural,” is it really made with all natural products?

The FDA is cracking down, so companies are looking for ways to scientifically validate their products. 

The USBSL is partnering with labs at the David H. Murdock Research Institute, which is based at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, along with BioNetwork, a lab on the Enka campus of AB-Tech Community College near Asheville, to offer the testing services.

Those services include validating, authenticating and differentiating a product’s herbal ingredient quality.

The USBSL not only can help companies authenticate and characterize ingredients, it can also help a firm produce different pilot versions of natural extracts, concentrates, beverages, and personal care products.

North Carolina ArboretumAll of the services come with Certificates of Analysis, which should not only satisfy the FDA, but also consumers.

In a region with strong ties to natural products, dating back to the Native Americans who first lived in the region and learned to use the land’s bounty,

It’s hoped the new lab can help natural product based companies grow in the western part of the state... naturally.

- Frank Graff

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on North Carolina Science Now, a weekly science series that airs Wednesdays, beginning in August 2013, as part of North Carolina Now on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!


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