Santa Fe, NM—Governor Bill Richardson, the two-term Democratic Governor of New Mexico and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who was instrumental in passage of landmark dietary supplements regulation, passed away on September 1, 2023, at the age of 75. On September 13, hundreds of mourners paid their respects, as his casket lies in state in the rotunda of the New Mexico Statehouse, according to a report from the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Natural products industry members are also remembering Gov. Richardson's work. “We join countless others in expressing our respect and sorrow,” said Steve Mister, President & CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). “The world has lost a dedicated public servant, a master of diplomacy, and a true humanitarian.” 

CRN said a lesser-known aspect of Gov. Richardson’s multifaceted career was his sponsorship of the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), making him  an architect of the regulatory framework that recognized dietary supplements as a unique category of food and laid the groundwork for the nearly $60 billion industry in the U.S. today. "As a representative in Congress, he recognized early that consumers wanted assurance they would be able to make decisions about their own healthcare and have access to products that could maintain and improve their health," CRN reported. "Working with his congressional colleagues, Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin, he adeptly maneuvered the legislation through various obstacles in the House of Representatives to final passage." 

“Gov. Richardson’s support of thoughtful, forward-looking regulation ultimately made the people of this country healthier,” added Mister. “And today, the three out of four Americans who use dietary supplements, and our industry, owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

Jarrow L. Rogovin, founder of Jarrow Formulas and industry trailblazer who helped in the fight for DSHEA, recalled working with Richardson. Rogovin shared the story with WholeFoods in 2014: “I worked House and Senate offices three times and advocated very strongly for an idea I had, which was that there should be some sort of advisory board made part of the law,” said Rogovin. He, along with food and drug attorney Scott Polisky, and Katy Flamm, then co-owner of The Vitamin Trader of Albuquerque, NM, went to then-Congressman Bill Richardson to discuss Rogovin’s idea. That idea eventually became the Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels (created by DSHEA). “The Commission laid down the initial guidelines and road map for the future once the bill was passed and signed by President Clinton,” Rogovin told WholeFoods in 2014.

Now, reflecting on that time and Richardson's passing, Rogovin shared more detail showing how passionate Richardson was: "The night DSHEA passed, he called [Rep. Henry] Waxman and yelled, 'Dammit Henry, will you release that bill!' He never was thanked. The industry never really thanked him. I did. I flew to Albuquerque for a fundraiser for him and a local health food store owner was there too."

A funeral Mass for Gov. Richardson will be celebrated on Thursday, September 14, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, with a reception to follow at the Capitol rotunda. 

Remembering industry leaders:

In Memoriam: Patricia Bragg, Health Food Pioneer

In Memoriam: Dr. Hector L. Lopez, Center for Applied Health Sciences

In Memoriam: Integrative Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D.