Herbal Medicine Trade Threatens Thousands of Plant Species

The booming worldwide market for herbal medicines threatens between 8 and 20 percent of the 50,000 known wild medicinal plant species with extinction, according to a forthcoming study by the World Wildlife Fund. Having risen by10 percent per year for the past decade, the herbal medicine trade is worth some $20 billion in Europe and North America. Extinction of the species would harm not only habitats but the economic well-being of the generally poor communities in India and China that harvest the plants. Enviros are urging the industry to team up with conservation organizations to insure that the plants are harvested responsibly and sustainably. Along with yesterday’s report on mass extinctions due to global warming, this study confirms that just about every species on Earth is toast.