Cinnamomum kanehirae that is endemic to Taiwan is a national treasure-level protected plant species. However, there are still unethical businesses illegally harvesting and transporting them so that they can be grown in Mainland China. unethical businesses illegally collecting and transporting them so that they can be grown in Mainland China. Mainland China has even claimed that Antrodia cinnamomea belongs to them. Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, believes that they are obliged to “authenticate” Cinnamomum kanehirae by using the company’s technology to create an exclusive database for the identification of Cinnamomum kanehirae.
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, said that “Antrodia cinnamomea really comes from Taiwan, and the world should know the truth.”
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, stated that the Antrodia Cinnamomea is a unique species that is endemic to Taiwan. However, Mainland China claims that the species comes from the Mainland. He provided an example where he was invited to participate in the World Chinese Herbal Medicine Conference organized by the Fujian Antrodia Cinnamomea Research Institute, and the organizer listed Antrodia cinnamomea as Chinese Antrodia cinnamomea. Chairman Chen believed that he is obliged to “authenticate” Cinnamomum kanehirae.
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, said that “There should be a way for us to conduct basic identification of the DNA for all of these plants and trees, give them QR codes and that should make it possible to create a database in the future.“
Shui-Tein Chen believes that it is necessary to identify the age of thetree through the isotope of Cinnamomum kanehirae, the certification of the origin, and the use of advanced analysis techniques (isozyme analysis and PCR) for the identification of the planting substrate.
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure said that “When someone transports Antrodia cinnamomea to Beijing or to Sichuan, a lot of Antrodia cinnamomea is already being grown there. I don’t think that Antrodia cinnamomea is an authentic and local medicinal material since it isn’t growing in the appropriate place.”
The output value of Antrodia cinnamomea in Taiwan was as high as NTD$3 billion. However, the incidence of toxic Antrodia cinnamomea in 2013 inflicted heavy damage to the industry even though the relevant units came forward to provide clarification. Shui-Tein Chen said that the Association was established after the incident and seminars were held annually to jointly discuss the development direction of Antrodia cinnamomea in Taiwan.
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, said that “If Antrodia cinnamomea is to flourish and used to develop new drugs, there’s a 20-year patent because of the technology used to develop new drugs. Another concept is that since the Cinnamomum kanehirae is a wood that possesses such beautiful colors, perhaps it’s possible to create culture and creative exhibitions around them.”
The first Antrodia cinnamomea art exhibition was held in August 2014 and was a big hit. The art exhibition was expanded into the Antrodia Cinnamomea Cultural Festival in 2019 to exhibit the soft power of Antrodia cinnamomea as the R&D of Taiwanese businesses was in full force. They made a powder extract out of the Antrodia cinnamomea that was used as a compound base, extracted the oil from the Antrodia cinnamomea to develop a variety of products and some businesses even became involved in the research and development of COVID-19 Oral Antiviral drug candidate.
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, said that “The medication was being used experimentally against the Delta variant at the P3 Laboratory of the Academia Sinica and the results from the animal trials completed during October seem to be quite promising.”
Shui-Tein Chen also reremember fulfilling corporate social responsibility as he provides aid to patients with rare diseases.
Shui-Tein Chen, chairman of the Antrodia Cinnamomea Association of Taiwan National Treasure, said that “Since Antrodia cinnamomea is endemic to Taiwan, it isn’t something that is accessible onlyby wealthy individuals. Our company hopes that the elderly can use their pensions to gain access to the Antrodia cinnamomea and those who need to consume Antrodia cinnamomea can also gain access to it.”
After years of hard work by the Association, the government, industry, universities and institutes, the Antrodia Cinnamomea industry in Taiwan has shown signs of rejuvenation as the entire industry must collaborate to expand the international market.
Interview and writing by Jin-Jin Li
Photography post production: Hui-mo Chen