Press Release  | 10/31/2013

Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council Launches at International Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Organization Will Develop Community Consensus on Key Safety and Sustainability Issues Related to Ayahuasca and Other Traditional Plant Medicines

The Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council (ESC) was inaugurated last week at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, Colorado. The nonprofit organization is devoted to assuring the sustainability and safe use of traditional plants.

The ESC will be open to any Ayahuasca ceremony sites or cultivators that can demonstrate good social and environmental performance. Association with the ESC will be entirely voluntary.

The ESC will also develop a safety and sustainability rating system for Ayahuasca sites, along with a label for plant materials.

The ESC also announced its first ethnobotanical safety and sustainability project, the Ayahuasca Dialogues. Through proactive stakeholder engagement, the Ayahuasca Dialogues will develop consensus on sustainability and safety practices for the cultivation and use of this traditional plant medicine.

“Existing markets for traditional plant medicines often fail to recognize safety and sustainability qualifications,” said Joshua Wickerham, chief advior to the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council. “In particular, visitors to Ayahuasca centers have thus far had little independent assurance about which locations have strong safety and sustainability records, and which are working to positively benefit local communities. As Ayahuasca and other ethnobotanical tools take their place in global culture, concerns about safety, sustainability, and fair treatment of communities must be resolved so that attention can be focused instead on issues like improving scientific understanding of risks, healing potential and medical applications of ethnobotanical resources.”

The ESC’s Ayahuasca Dialogues will focus on three preliminary areas:

  • THE SAFETY OF AYAHUASCA CEREMONY PARTICIPANTS at the site level, including first aid and emergency preparedness, ritual safety guidelines, identification of admixture plants, and visitor feedback mechanisms to ensure the responsibility of sites and practitioners;
  • THE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY OF AYAHUASCA TOURISM, incorporating site-level ecotourism concepts, carbon offsetting for community-supported forestry and medicinal plant cultivation, and local community benefits;
  • THE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY OF AYAHUASCA ADMIXTURE PLANT CULTIVATION, incorporating good cultivation practices, fair treatment and compensation of workers, principles of sustainable biotrade, and chain-of-custody mechanisms for certified

For more information, see:  www.ethnobotanicalcouncil.org

Contact: Joshua Wickerham, info@ethnobotannicalcouncil.org

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