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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 6, 2013

Clamping Down on Nutritional Information
In Europe, You'd Better Watch What You Say about Supplements

Commentary by Gert Schuitemaker, PhD (Netherlands) and Andrew W. Saul (USA)

(OMNS Apr 6, 2013) The government of the Netherlands, one of 27 European Union countries, continues to clamp down on alternative medicine. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA, http://www.vwa.nl/english) has the tools in place to restrict communication of information about the beneficial effects of food and nutrients to promote health and effectively curb disease. And, most importantly, this bureaucracy makes all decisions as to how the rules are applied.

Netherlands law is backed up and strictly enforced by new EU rules based on very rigid codes regarding health claims for foods and dietary supplements. The power is held by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These regulations are now in force in every European Union country.

The Noose Tightens

When we go back in history, we see that already in 1958 the Dutch Medicine Laws defined all substances in nature as medicines, if they were in any way presented as suitable for curing or preventing a disease. So once a common beet, or vitamin C, was associated with a preventive medicinal effect, it legally became a drug. This was the start of censorship and control, and has been buttressed by subsequent European regulations. Slowly but relentlessly, since 1958, all substances in nature are being brought into the realm of medical care.

Since December 14, 2012, the date the new EU rules came into force, the stage is set for stepped-up enforcement of the law. This serves the pharmaceutical-dominated belief system of the controlling officials that "medical claims" (like how vitamin C helps against colds) are illegal. Now huge fines up to $30,000 may be imposed. Doctors, therapists and other clinicians are at risk . . . even journalists and publishers. We think you'd better know what's going on and learn from people who were unlucky. Perhaps "unlucky" is not the precise word. "Victimized" might be more accurate.

Government power grabs are a serious matter and fit into a long historical trend. Most governments for years have evidenced no sympathy for complementary medicine. Take, for example, the recent July 2012 action against homeopathy in the Netherlands. It is now forbidden by law for homeopathic products to mention any use of the product on the label or in flyers.

Paying More, and Paying with Human Lives

In the Netherlands, there has been an increase of the tax rate on complementary treatments. At the same time, every citizen is obliged to pay collectively for a medical system where all alternatives are slowly but effectively being eliminated. But hazard-ridden mainstream services are defended politically, financially and economically. Pharmaceutical abuses are "downgraded" to mere incidents. In the Netherlands alone, with 16 million citizens and not a particularly large nation, nearly 2000 deaths every year are due to avoidable medical mistakes. Between 30,000 and 40,000 patients are unnecessarily harmed, every year. Were we to be able to count the errors that do not come out, that number would be vastly higher. And that is just in one EU country.

Confidence Game

The medical care system is founded on the confidence of the citizens, who increasingly tolerate higher and higher costs. Seemingly nothing is permitted to undermine the system. A comparison with the financial system is obvious: the international economy, the banks as central players, is built on confidence. As soon as the confidence disappears, the system will be ruined. Complementary medicine is an irritant to the official medical care system. It is a source of continuous criticism. Moreover, alternative health practitioners often have the safest and most effective therapies to offer their patients, especially to the growing number of chronically ill. The regular entrenched interests are fundamentally affected, and laws are made to protect those in power. Censoring reasonable health claims for supplements bolsters the medical-pharmaceutical industry.

Slowly the government has scaled up restrictive measures. Slowly, dissenting physicians have been gagged. This process goes on over decades. The gagging takes place such that it is just bearable. Avoiding sudden moves, no healthcare rebellion breaks out. It would appear that conventional medical authority in science, media and politics cannot tolerate being challenged. But losing information access, and losing choice of treatment, are not just marginal phenomena. Just because freedoms have been lost inconspicuously doesn't make the loss any less serious.

It Can Happen Here

Just because you live outside the European Union does not mean you are going to keep your access to dietary supplements. If they can restrict access to fair information, they can and will restrict access to the supplements themselves. European legislation is a ready blueprint for legislation in other countries, including the United States. We urge OMNS readers to protest, in their own nation, any and all laws that restrict information access, supplement availability, and treatment options.

Take Action

Online newsletters and updates from the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH, http://anh-europe.org/), the National Health Federation (NHF, http://www.thenhf.com/), and other valuable activist organizations provide background information and opportunities for you to make a difference. Going through PubMed/MEDLINE week by week, you (and your doctor) can see that many new studies show the validity of orthomolecular (nutritional) medicine.

Even with the restrictions encouraged by the pharmaceutical industry onto government, more and more people are realizing the importance of readily available, unbiased information about essential nutrients and how they can prevent and reverse disease. Restrictions haven't stamped out people's desire for unhampered access to supplements. But take a lesson from the European Union countries: it is easier to act now and defend your freedoms than it is to lose them and have to fight to win them back.


References:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32002L0046:EN:NOT [EU-level legislation started in 2002 with this directive (law). There is a permitted list of nutrients, and by their absence, other nutrients are excluded.]

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:404:0009:0025:EN:PDF [link to EU regulation 12-30-2006, the basis for general claims regulation]

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:136:0001:0040:EN:PDF [link to EU regulation 5-16-12 with the 222 authorized claims]

Up-to-date register of permitted health claims: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims/


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Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Dean Elledge, D.D.S., M.S. (USA)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: omns@orthomolecular.org This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.


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