When people hear the word “natural” along with their food or drug product, they might automatically assume that it’s safer, as opposed to its “artificial” counterpart. Herbal supplements, for example, are sometimes used as an alternative to other medications. Even though it does have the label “natural”, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain drug-like effects. Supplements such as St. John’s wort, ginger, and ginkgo are known to interact with many other prescribed medications, causing a potentially dangerous combination of chemicals in the body.
Although this is unrelated to Monsanto, some might consider it a potential social injustice. Herbal supplements are regulated by the FDA, however, not as a drug or a food product. They fall under their own category: dietary supplements.
Manufacturers do not have to seek approval from the FDA before putting their product on the market.
Manufacturers follow appropriate manufacturing procedures to ensure that the supplements meet quality standards.
Once the dietary substance is on the market, then the FDA will monitor it for safety. The FDA can take serious actions against the manufacturer or the distributor if the product is found to be unsafe. (For comparison, regulations for drug products have to be ensured safe before being allowed on the market). Since 2004,the FDA has pulled more than 24 herbal supplements because they contained ingredients that were in, or mimicked, prescription drugs.
Similarly to my previous posts, these herbal supplements don’t have an assured safety, even though they are being sold on the market. However, like the products claim, they are from natural sources, which inherently seems safer and softer than resorting to a prescription medication. Is is social injustice? Perhaps. I honestly could not be able to take a side. I think knowledge and public awareness is the key in this situation, so that people can choose for themselves, knowingly, what they are putting into their bodies.