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Letters to the Editor Issue 155

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 155 - February 2009

GRCCT Comment: CnHC Register for Massage and Nutritional Therapists Launch

The General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies was established in 2007 as the first and only profession supported Regulator for Complementary Therapies in the United Kingdom. We are greatly saddened by the actions of the company now calling itself the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CnHc).
This CnHc is a small group consisting mostly of nurses, dentists, pharmacologists and a physiotherapist with no voting rights for Complementary Therapy expertise on its various regulatory councils and functional committees. This exclusion of voting professional expertise is unique to the CnHc. No other regulator in the UK is structured in this way.  To date, this group, together with its precursors has spent almost £3m of public money in the formation of a regulatory process considered unfit for purpose by the vast majority of practitioners.
Whilst accepting that this new body is only offering registration to some Massage Therapists and a percentage of the Nutritional Therapy sector has, at a single stroke, confused the whole issue of regulating Complementary and Alternative Medicine and devalued the concept in the eyes of public and professions alike.
Since 2007 the public have needed to check only the single National Register administered by the GRCCT to establish if their chosen practitioner in the disciplines of Aromatherapy, Energy Therapies, Massage, Reflexology, and Reiki had committed to the industry voluntary regulator. Should this new body succeed in recruiting the 10,000 practitioners it requires to fund the innumerate positions in its complex management structure the public will need to check both registers for their Massage Therapist.
Regrettably, when the 15 seconds of fame has expired and the funding has again run out it is not the unelected few at the CnHc who will be tasked with rebuilding the reputation of Complementary Medicine. 

Notes and Further Information

The GRCCT is a self-funding regulatory body established in 2007.
The GRCCT lists 30 Professional Associations and Organisations across 6 major therapy disciplines from which applications for Admissions to the National Register may be accepted.  The CnHc lists 2 organisations from 2 therapies.
The GRCCT currently regulates an industry sector of some 60,000 practitioners.
The CnHc cannot STOP practitioners from conducting their business.
GRCCT may be contacted on Tel: 0870 3144031; Fax: 0870 8793528;

Toothpaste Toxin in Food Supplements Triggers ANH Call for Inquiry

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) calls today for an urgent independent inquiry into the scientific methods used by Europe's highest authority on food safety, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This call comes on the back of the ANH's highly critical analysis, published on its website today, of EFSA's decision to approve for food supplement use the chemical sodium monofluorophosphate, the same chemical commonly added to toothpaste and mouth washes to prevent or treat tooth decay.

The ANH has simultaneously released an equally indicting, independent commentary on EFSA's opinion by Professor Vyvyan Howard of the University of Ulster, an internationally acknowledged expert in risk assessment of chemicals in the environment.

The ANH's call for an independent inquiry has come just a week after Dr Verkerk presented a petition on behalf of the Irish Association of Health Stores in the European Parliament which claims that bad science used by European regulators could result in the closure of at least half the health stores in Ireland. On the basis of the arguments presented, the chairman of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament agreed on 19th January to keep the petition open and refer it to the Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

Medical director of the ANH, Dr Damien Downing, an internationally recognised expert on the effects of environmental chemicals on health said, "It's bad enough brushing your teeth or rinsing your mouth with fluoride. But opening up its usage to food supplements when it's very difficult to control how much other fluoride a person is being exposed to, especially in countries like Ireland and the UK where the public drinking water supplies might be fluoridated, is utterly irresponsible."

From a legal perspective, ANH's legal director Robert Collins asserted: "Dental caries, or tooth decay, is without question a recognised disease. The clear intention of the two petitioners responsible for dossiers on sodium monofluorophosphate is that the chemical be used for the treatment or prevention of dental caries. As this use is clearly medicinal, its evaluation should be undertaken by the European Medicines Agency in an application for a drug. This is simply not within EFSA's legal remit."

Referring to the searing criticism of non-transparency of the European Commission's approach to approving ingredients in food supplements made by the Advocate-General in the ANH's case in the ECJ in 2005, Verkerk added, "It appears we're well and truly back to the days of Geelhoed's black box."

"Despite a serious ticking off by the European Court, EFSA and the Commission are being as opaque as each other. EFSA is seemingly bending its rules to provide a required outcome," continued Verkerk. "To do this, it's dramatically altered the ultra-restrictive risk assessment methods it's used on essential vitamins and minerals which it seems happy to see banned. With this fluoride opinion, it's ignored a large of body of science which points to serious risks associated with fluoride, and it's given it a green light even after admitting that most children taking fluoride supplements would exceed the highest safe levels set by EFSA itself", added Dr Verkerk.

The European Court of Justice's ruling on the ANH's case, heard in July 2005, made it clear that any decision to accept or reject a nutrient for use in food supplements needed to be based on a 'full assessment of the risk posed to public health by the substance, established on the basis of the most reliable scientific data available and the most recent results of international research.'

Robert Collins stated: "This is one of the most extreme examples we've yet seen of both bad science and bad law. EFSA's work is a mess and, in the public interest, an independent review of EFSA's risk assessment work is urgently needed."

Commentary by the ANH:

EFSA opinion on sodium monofluorophosphate:
Commentary by Professor Vyvyan Howard on EFSA opinion on sodium monofluorophosphate:
Commentary by the ANH on EFSA opinion on calcium fluoride:

Further Information

Please Contact  Liz Davies, ANH Campaign Administrator on Tel: +44 (0)1306 646 600;


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