Diversifying Agriculture for Better Lives

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05 October 2009 Add Comments

Sustainability of trade in kava (Piper methysticum), which was severely compromised by a 2002 ban on exports from Pacific Islands to European pharmaceutical companies, has reached a new phase. Exporters vigorously fought the ban, imposed as a result of claims that kava pills, sold as herbal remedies for reducing anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression, were toxic to the liver of individuals who took them. Concerted reaction by Pacific interests such as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat led to the formation of the International Kava Executive Committee, which sought ways to get the ban lifted. A 2007 World Health Organization report found that the process of manufacturing the pills was more likely to be toxic to some pill takers than the kavalactones drunk in traditional beverages; quality control and changing the manufacturing process could allow exports of kava to Europe to resume.

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