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Herbal Expo will provide information on herb industry marketing, production, regulations

ALBUQUERQUE - Important issues of the herbal industry will be discussed at the second annual Herbal Expo on Sunday, June 24, at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th Street NW in Albuquerque.

"With the ephedra scare a couple of years ago, more attention is being given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the possibility of increased regulations or outright ban of certain herbs," said event organizer Charles Martin, agricultural specialist at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde. "We need to bring this to the attention of the public so they are aware of the possibility of certain herbs being taken off the market and becoming unavailable to them.

"From a grower's standpoint, these issues are also important because they may limit or determine what herbs can be marketed or grown. Growers need to be aware of the regulations as much as the herbalist, because it is the herbalist who will be their primary buyer," he said.

Martin encourages growers, vendors and anyone providing a service that involves herbs, such as massage therapy, aromatherapy or body and skin care using herbal products, as well as users of such services, to attend the conference.

The expo will be a combination educational conference and vendors' exhibition. The sessions are divided into two tracks - Production and Marketing, and Clinical and Regulations.

"We've made a special effort to draw expertise from all over the country to discuss various aspects of herb production, processing, marketing and regulations, as well as potential policies that may limit or affect the availability of herbs and herbal medicines," Martin said.

Among the experts is keynote speaker Jean Giblette, director of High Falls Gardens in Philmont, N.Y. She will talk about restoring herbal traditions during the 9 a.m. opening ceremony.

"Jean has been instrumental in promoting local, organic, small-scale herb production, especially Chinese medicinal herbs," Martin said. "Through her creation of the Medicinal Herb Consortium, a nationwide network of growers' associations, and by taking a direct-marketing approach, she has helped small-scale organic growers benefit from adding these specialty crops to their overall crop mix."

Giblette also will present several educational sessions including a botanical studies program for acupuncture and oriental medicine professionals.

John Scott, an Albuquerque doctor of oriental medicine and president of Golden Flower Chinese Herbs Inc., will be among the session presenters. Scott will discuss the history of herb regulations.

Althea Northage-Orr, founder of the Chicago College of Healing Arts, is a registered herbalist and licensed acupuncturist and has studied herbal medicine for 30 years. She will discuss western herbs to replace antibiotics.

Mitch Coven, a trained medical herbalist and owner of Vitality Works in Albuquerque, will discus good manufacturing practices for herbalists. Roy Upton, executive director and editor of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of quality control standards for botanical products, will speak on the good, bad and ugly aspects of herbal production.

Presenters in the production and marketing workshops will include Z'ev Rosenberg, chair of the herbal medicine department at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, Calif., and former president of the Acupuncture Association of Colorado. He will speak on the windcrafting native herbs and the Chinese material medica.

Danny Rhodes, a trained chef and grower in El Guique, N.M., who sells mushrooms at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market, will discuss growing mushrooms.

Tom Rohrkaste will discuss quality herb cultivation and preparation. The Rowe Mesa, N.M., organic grower and herbalist prepares La Puebla Elementals herbal products with an appreciation of the power of synergy at work in nature.

Steve Heil, a trained art educator and grower in Gallup, will discuss growing and marketing cota, which he has done for more than six years. Connie Falk, NMSU professor of agriculture economics and alternative marketing specialist, will discuss community support of agriculture herb production.

The expo will conclude with a panel discussion of herbalist licensure and herb regulations. Joining Giblette, Rosenberg, Upton, Scott and Coven will be Selah Chamberlain, former president of the Oriental Medicine Association of New Mexico; and Coral Pitkin, a nurse practitioner and midwife in Albuquerque who has studied herbs since the age of 18.

Admission is $40 for students or New Mexico Herbal Growers Association members, and $50 for non-members. Registration will be at 8 a.m. with the opening ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. The expo is made possible by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Program. For conference information contact Martin at (505) 852-9071. For vendor information contact Monique Ortega at (505) 852-0555.