EU Laws Set To Start Affecting The Food We Eat

EFSA Continues With Draconian Laws Despite Criticism

On 1 May 2011 the most stringent laws against herbal remedies and natural medicine came into full force across Europe.

These laws, which fall under the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), will make it impossible for a traditional herbal medicine to be licensed in Europe unless it has been used for 30 years in the European Union (EU) – or 15 years in the EU and 15 years elsewhere. If it hasn’t been used for this amount of time, then it won’t be licensed and it will be illegal to sell! This is very bad news indeed for the thousands of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies countless people rely on.

Massive intrusion on our basic human rights

We’ve been campaigning relentlessly against this clampdown on alternative and natural medicine because, ultimately, we’re losing our freedom to choose how we want to take care of our own health! Worst still, these rigid laws will reach much further than simply regulating the supplement market and herbal remedies… they will eventually regulate the food you and I put into our mouths.

I’m not joking or blowing things out of proportion!

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) — tasked with evaluating all health claims regarding food in the EU — has started a campaign to ban anyone from claiming that drinking water can help prevent dehydration! If you do so, you can land yourself in jail!

Luckily, it looks as if some European Members of Parliament (MEPs) have started to smell smoke, especially since the EFSA has been rejecting more than 80 per cent of health claims for natural, and especially botanical, ingredients.

Raising some serious questions

What did these guys expect? If you’re going to impose such unrealistic and draconian measures on something that countless people benefit from, then a backlash is inevitable!

Some MEPs have asked how on earth it is possible that most of the health claims filed for approval under the THMPD, received a negative opinion (meaning its claims have been rejected.) Furthermore, they also object to the tremendous impact these negative opinions will have on small-and medium-sized businesses, which in some cases, are the economic backbone of certain European countries.

If you ask me, it’s a little bit too late to cry foul play now. Over the past two years, we’ve been trying our utmost to get the message across that the EFSA’s regulations are far too stringent and are based on very little (if any!) scientific evidence.

Shockingly, many of the claims dismissed by the EFSA, have already been approved in several European countries. By rejecting these claims, the EFSA directly contradicts the European Medicines Agency, which recognises the healing properties of dozens of plants through the directive on traditional herbal remedies.

This whole saga is a right old mess… and sadly it’s consumers and business owners that suffer the most… let alone the fact that it makes absolutely no sense to impose these rigid laws at a time when almost every country in Europe could benefit from an economic boost!

Travesty of justice!

Now, one might think that the bureaucrats at the EFSA would at least give full and considered responses to their critics’ concerns – especially when they come from elected members of parliament! – and take their misgivings seriously. But of course, that wasn’t the case!

In fact, the EFSA actually believe that their 20 per cent approval rate for positive evaluations of claims is good! See, in the world of the EFSA, consumer confidence and sustainable innovation can only be maintained if health claims made on foods (remember that includes drinking water and supplements!) “represent a real benefit for consumers and are backed by robust science”.

Come on! That’s just ludicrous, considering the fact that the so-called ‘robust science’ now prevents anyone from saying that regular consumption of water can reduce the risk of dehydration! Any monkey knows that this is a fundamental truth and not some fraudulent health claim!

I stand aghast at the EFSA’s stubbornness to recognise reasonable warnings and questions… If this continues, we’re all facing a huge tragedy… not to mention the tremendous injustice that is being done to future generations.

Francois Lubbe

Health Science Institute

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