ONTARIO COMPANY FINED FOR ILLEGALLY IMPORTING TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINES
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, October 17, 2005 - Shiyitang Herbs North America Inc., an Ontario company, plead guilty today in the Ontario Court of Justice in Mississauga on charges of illegally importing traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) said to contain derivatives made from Gastrodia orchids and Saiga Antelope horn. The company was fined a total of $1500.
An investigation conducted by Environment Canada's Wildlife Enforcement Division established that the accused unlawfully imported from China 20 cartons (1600 packages) of "Tianma Jiaonang" pills said to contain "Tianma," which refers to the Gastrodia Orchid, and 30 cartons (6000 packages) of "Niuhuang Jiangya Pian" pills said to contain Saiga Antelope. The total declared value of these 50 cartons was almost $3,700.
The accused did not have a Chinese CITES export permit, which is required to legally import the TCMs in question into Canada. Shiyitang Herbs North America, Inc. was ordered to pay a fine of $1200, including a mandatory victim surcharge of $300. The TCMs in question have been forfeited to the Crown.
All species of Orchids are listed under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Gastrodia orchids are listed in the threatened category of Appendix II. The Saiga Antelope, which is native to Western Europe and Asia, is also a threatened species listed under Appendix II of CITES. These species are protected under Canada's Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) and its Regulations. WAPPRIITA is the legislative vehicle by which Canada meets its obligations under CITES.
The international trade in TCMs is a multi-million dollar a year industry. Hundreds of types of TCMs have been inspected on importation into Canada, with more than 600 of those said to contain more than 40 CITES-listed species of animals and plants. Many Canadian companies now obtain foreign CITES export permits to legally import these products, but several products are still being imported illegally. Environment Canada provides education to the companies who import TCMs and to practitioners who use these products.
Environment Canada is the lead agency responsible for implementing CITES on behalf of the Government of Canada. CITES sets controls, through a permit system, on the international trade and movement of animal and plant species that are endangered, or have been, or may be, threatened due to excessive commercial exploitation.