Opinion / Editorials

Behind herb's name change

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-15 07:32

It is unimaginable to many that delivery of interest could be behind the change of name of a medicinal herb. But a disciplinary inspection official in Central China's Hunan province has accused the former director of the China Food and Drug Administration of manipulating the change of Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, a medicinal herb growing in South China provinces to another name. He claims that the name change has caused heavy economic losses to millions of herb growers, and firmly pledged that corruption was involved. This accuser, using his real name, said online that an enterprise from East China's Shandong province benefited the most from the change of name in 2005 while the former CFDA director at the time was from that province.

An expert from the Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission said on Wednesday that the latter medicinal herb, although quite similar to Lonicera japonica, is not the same and that both were used as the same type of medicinal herb was a mistake. However, an expert from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine argued that both are almost the same with only a minor difference in the content of luteoloside, which he believes does not make a difference to the plant.

Ordinary people can hardly reach their own conclusions even if both parties continue to argue since it is such a complicated issue that requires professional knowledge to understand.

But whether corruption is involved and the authorities have indeed been kidnapped by medicinal enterprises and for personal gain is of course of concern to the public.

As for the CFDA and the commission, their reputation has already been tarnished by the accusation. The alleged abuse of power, if it remains in suspension without being investigated and the truth unraveled, will undoubtedly further damage the commission's reputation and that of the government as well.

In the investigation, a third party needs to be involved to make sure that probe is fair.

The whistle-blower who says he has the evidence to support his claim will need to show his evidence. And experts not involved can be organized to test the samples of the herb growing in the south and north of the country and determine if there is any difference in terms of the medicinal element.

There have been instances of rule-makers intentionally leaving loopholes in the rules for some enterprises to get unjustifiable profits. The change of name of a medicinal herb in favor of a locality could well be corruption of the same nature. So the implication of the case goes far beyond the name of a medicinal herb.

Most Viewed Today's Top News