According to National Geographic, the study made by FAO looked into 12 wild plants that are used for making various products and among those plants are shea, argan, frankincense and juniper.
Caitlin Schindler, lead author of the report and a project manager at Traffic, a nonprofit organization that monitors the sustainability of the wildlife trade, stated that these plants often times "sit there somewhere in the middle of the ingredients list".
This means that people don't always notice them on the labels and even if they do, they are not provided with any information regarding where they were obtained from and how they were being processed.
One plant that aids the income of some 20.000 Brazilians is the Brazil nut tree and its fruits are some of the most consumed around the world and because of this, it is a threatened species.
It's not only the plant that is at risk, as workers often have to come to camps, leaving their homes and exposing themselves to dangers, such as improper shelter, no access to clean water, scorpions and jaguars.
Invasive pests, climate change and overharvesting are among the top reasons why these 12 plants are in danger of going extinct, specialists found.
Being used for things such as medicine, aromatherapy and food, these plants see great interest from manufacturers, as consumers buy resulting products more than ever.
Only in the US consumers spent some 11 billion USD on herbal dietary supplements in 2020, which is 17% more compared to the previous year.
Some plants, including licorice and the soap bark tree, have seen a boom in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they were often used as treatments and even for the Novavax vaccine.
While these plants have been used for centuries for their properties by local communities, current global demand is threatening their existence.
Ann Armbrecht, director of the Sustainable Herbs Program, said that "historically, the medicinal plant industry has had a lot of secrecy in it."
According to Caitlin Schindler, the first thing that consumers can do to have a positive impact on the problem is to "just notice that you’re buying something that has a wild ingredient in it" and then to spread the word about products that use ingredients harvested from improper places.
There are different certification programs, such as the Rainforest Alliance, Fair for Life and FairWild, which look into wild plant supply chains, evaluating the sustainability rating and employment conditions for a number of products.
While companies will usually advertise these certifications on their labels, Schindler encourages customers to ask companies who don't do this about the source of ingredients.
"Until businesses get a bit more pressure from consumers, we won’t see any changes happening", she added.