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Letters to the Editor: Issue 111

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 111 - May 2005

Breaking News: EU Supplement Directive

Following a landmark challenge in the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) brought by the Alliance for Natural Health and Nutri-Link Ltd to the contentious Food Supplements Directive, which effectively proposed to ban 75% of vitamin and mineral forms, Advocate General Geelhoed, the senior adviser to the ECJ, gave his Opinion in favour of the Alliance’s case on April 5.

This means that the chances of consumers being able to continue using the natural food supplements they believe are beneficial to their health are now greatly increased. There has been uproar about the proposed EU ban, and maybe, against the odds, the consumer is going to come out on top in what is a remarkable modern day case of David and Goliath.

The Advocate General in the European Court in Luxembourg concluded that:

•    The Food Supplements Directive infringes the principle of proportionality because basic principles of Community law, such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty and of sound administration have not properly been taken into account;
•    It is therefore invalid under EU law.

It should be stressed that the Advocate General’s pronouncement is not a ruling. That will come from the ECJ judges, later – probably around June. But typically, in the vast majority of cases, the Court Judgment follows the recommendations of the Advocate General.

If the Advocate General’s recommendations are adopted, in effect, the ban on vitamin and mineral forms not included on the EU’s ‘Positive list,’ due to come into effect on 1 August 2005, will be declared illegal. In essence, the positive list of allowable nutrient forms will be deemed to be too narrow, too restrictive, and based on flawed science.

This would avoid the totally irrational situations that the Food Supplements Directive would otherwise create. For example, synthetically produced selenium would have been allowed on the positive list, while the natural source found in Brazil nuts would not; synthetic forms of Vitamin E (often used in ‘adverse’ vitamin studies reported in the media) would be allowed, but the natural, most beneficial food forms would not.

“It is commendable that the EU Advocate General has seen through the flawed science and law of the Food Supplements Directive and reached his recommendations today,” said Dr. Robert Verkerk, Executive Director of the ANH. “All that ANH is campaigning and working cooperatively for is the right for consumers to have access to safe natural healthcare and for legislation to be based on good science and good law. This is a great day for the tens of millions of people who believe passionately in the benefits of natural, preventative healthcare.”

David C Hinde, Solicitor and ANH Legal Director, added: “This is a very significant Opinion in a landmark case. What we want to see in the EU is the Food Supplements Directive doing the job for which it was created which is to provide a ‘safe harbour’ for food supplements so that they are not classified as drugs, and to promote their availability across the EU. Advocate General Geelhoed is the most senior Advocate General at the ECJ and his considered reasoning vindicates ANH’s legal analysis and position. We are very optimistic that the Court will adopt his recommendations.”

Supporting Safe Supplements
ANH supports many aspects of the Directive, and firmly endorses the banning of ingredients that are patently not safe, stating that existing UK and EU food law already provides perfectly effective protection from unsafe products getting onto the market. Furthermore, ANH says that it is not scientifically rational to classify an ingredient as being unsafe without taking dosage levels into account, something that was not a condition of being admitted onto the positive list.

ANH believes that a far more appropriate system for banning any substances that might pose a risk to health would be to produce a ‘Negative list’ for ingredients where there was proper evidence of lack of safety. The system proposed by the EU was going to ban ingredients on the basis that companies did not have the financial capacity to meet the high data threshold required for the scientific dossiers demanded by EU authorities.

In this way, ingredients that have been part of the human diet for thousands of years, and which are increasingly difficult to derive from conventional foods, would be lost, and would not be able to be supplemented.

The Future of the Leading Edge of Natural Health Secured
Drawing its support European-wide from consumers, manufacturers, retailers, practitioners and some of the leading experts in nutritional medicine, ANH has taken on the Goliath of the European Commission and those that support the unscientific and unlawful ban in the Food Supplements Directive, to protect the interests of everyone concerned with the leading-edge of food supplements and natural healthcare.

A Wide Welcome Across the Industry if the Ban is Overturned
Greg Watts, Chief Executive of Ultralife, a manufacturer of leading-edge food supplements, said: “This is very encouraging news. If the ban came into force we would have to reformulate down to simpler, more basic products that consumers and practitioners find are less effective.”

Dr Damien Downing, a medical doctor and one of the UK’s leading practitioners in nutritional medicine, said: “Practitioners of nutritional therapy, and there are thousands of them in the UK, largely use leading-edge food supplements. If these nutrient forms remain, we can continue to treat our patients with meaningful solutions and provide the products that we know are so beneficial. A ban would in one fell swoop remove the vital tools of practitioners’ trade.”

Sara Novakovic, owner of Oliver’s Wholefood Store in Richmond, Surrey, said: “At last it is now highly likely we can continue to offer the products that our customers ask for and want, rather than have to remove them all from the shelves for no good reason and supply them with inferior quality alternatives.”

The End of the Beginning
This is just the beginning for the Alliance for Natural Health. Regulatory and industry pressure through the EU Food Supplements Directive was always likely to translate globally, particularly to the US, through Codex and the World Health Organisation. Without having to justify any health hazard, and without considering any benefits, safety has been used as a reason to restrict the availability of natural food products.

“With rapidly declining vitamin and mineral content in fruit vegetables and other foods, and continuing increases in degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer in the West, this has always been a very big issue worth fighting for,” said Dr Robert Verkerk.

“Fundamentally, an amended Directive would help to slow down the agenda of the Codex Alimentarius Commission to export worldwide an onerous, EU-style regime for food supplements,” David Hinde added. “The ANH is now going to be working on getting a proper procedure in place for the Food Supplements Directive and in addition, the next challenges will be on legislation proposing to reduce dosages to ineffective levels, and to restrict other nutrient forms such as amino acids, enzymes and plant nutrients. Traditional herbal remedies are also under threat. In its work, the Alliance for Natural Health will continue its thorough, professional approach based, as always, on ‘good science, good law’.”

Reasons for Continuing to Support the Legal Challenge
If the ban on vitamins and minerals is implemented there is much at stake:

•    Over 5000 products will disappear from the shelves of UK health stores as a result of the ban removing access to over 300 vitamin and mineral ingredients (out of a total of about 420). These include, amongst others, the main natural forms of Vitamin E, several forms of vitamin C, the key natural form of folic acid, MSM and a range of minerals such as vanadium, silicon and boron, all being products which millions of consumers choose to take as part of their regular health regime and have done so without any ill effects for many years;
•    An individual’s freedom of choice to take safe natural health products will be removed - 40% of the UK’s population take vitamins and minerals;
•    Further legislative proposals by the EU are due to be considered by the European Parliament later this and next year. These include restrictions on maximum dosages of vitamins and minerals and restrictions on health claims of foods. Again, the ANH is working to help positively shape such legislation using its mantra of ‘good science and good law’.
Robert Verkerk PhD
Executive Director, ANH Tel. +44 (0)1252 371 275
David Hinde, Solicitor,
Legal Director, ANH Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 1640
The Core Team in the UK, Sweden, Ireland and Denmark.

More About Past Lives

How good to see an article about Past Life work in Positive Health (My So-called Past Life by Jody Jaffe, Issue 108 February 2005), as the influence of the long-term soul journey on the present life can be overlooked.

Allow me to update the information offered on practitioners in Britain. The Association of Past Life Healers has been offering a comprehensive training for several years and accredited practitioners can be located on our new website Morris Berg, mentioned by Jody in her article, is one of our members, though he is not practising at the moment. As you can see, we call ourselves healers rather than regression therapists, as we believe that it is the healing part of the work, not the regression itself, that has the most power to bring about change in the present and the future. It isn’t enough just to know about the past life and expect that knowledge to automatically result in letting go of that particular part of the past, although that can happen sometimes for some people. Therefore, we allocate about a third of the session to visualising that healing and letting go in a meticulous and thorough way. In the process, we often uncover even more significant information.

As Jody so rightly says, it is not necessary to believe in reincarnation to be helped by past life healing. It is quite ok to believe that this is the work of the unconscious mind which is trying to tell the conscious mind something useful and using a story to do so. We all love a good story and they have been used to convey important messages since time immemorial. I myself have been a practitioner for about eight years. I have had the privilege of taking almost 100 people through other lives and seen the healing effects on their present lives.

I have experienced many past lives myself. One of these has shown me how the ME I developed in 1989 has given me the opportunity to learn how to reconstruct my life after a significant loss. During a life as an opera singer I lost my voice and my career, got bitter and twisted and never did anything to make a new life. Knowing this was a great help and encouraged me to continue in very difficult times. It is all learning.
And no, Jody, I haven’t been Cleopatra either and neither have any of my clients!
Jacqui Henderson


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