Food supplements directive set back by vote
of EU Health Ministers
In a recent meeting of the European Unions Council of Ministers, the proposed European directive on food supplements was dealt a serious blow, setting back the agenda for its approval which was expected within the end of this year. The Danish minister of Trade Ole Stavad said, that the directive has been "cleared off the table", to be re-presented at a later date. In fact, six out of fifteen EU member countries did not agree with the proposed text: Spain, France, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Greece. Paradoxically, their refusal to agree to the European Commissions already restrictive proposal is based on a perception of their respective health authorities that the directive as proposed is TOO LIBERAL!
In any case, the proposed text of the directive on food supplements was highly controversial. The health authorities of several European countries believe that dosages of vitamins and minerals should be strictly related to the so-called RDA. That is the daily reference intake, which supplies just enough of each nutrient to avoid the classical deficiency diseases such as scurvy and beriberi. Consumers on the other hand, together with scientists and nutritional practitioners, are of a different opinion.
"RDAs are not a guarantee of optimal health. They were developed during World War II for the purpose of ensuring that US soldiers in combat missions abroad did not get sick from lack of nutrients, while keeping supply lines from being overloaded with large quantities of food. New research has shown, that for effective prevention and for optimising health, some of these substances need to be supplied in much larger dosages, many times that of the RDA minimum," says Dr. Claudio Capozza, medical doctor in Rome and member of La Leva di Archimede, a consumers association for freedom of choice in health matters.
Another point of contention with the directive was its intention to institute close controls on the substances that producers should be allowed to use in manufacturing supplements in the future. The proposed directive contained an annex listing "permitted nutrient sources". According to Ralph Pike, director of the National Association of Health Stores in the United Kingdom, such a list would eliminate many perfectly safe natural products from the market overnight. Pike adds, "close to three hundred substances, mainly mineral formulations, which have been on the market in thousands of different products for years would be eliminated, putting an end to the natural products market as we know it."
The idea behind the proposed directive has also been criticised from another quarter. Dr. Matthias Rath, a physician who trained under and worked for many years with Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling has made an important discovery. He patented a preventive protocol for heart and cardiovascular problems, based on the use of certain vitamins and other natural substances.
Rath charges in an open letter to members of Parliament, both national and European, that the directive has been inspired by the pharmaceutical multinationals and is an attempt to eliminate "by decree" the competition of natural substances, especially vitamins, against synthetic pharmaceutical products. These synthetic medicines have recently come under attack for reason of their potentially fatal side effects. Synthetic pharmaceutical medicines have been shown by statistical analysis to cause in excess of a hundred thousand deaths every year.
Rath calls on the members of parliament to promote science based natural healing methods, which he calls "an important part of health care" and says that the health of millions of people must certainly be more important than the share prices of a handful of pharmaceutical shareholders.
Consumers are criticising the directive from yet another angle. "We see the proposal as an attempt to limit our personal freedom of choice on what nutritive or other natural products we may use to stay healthy and are happy to see it has been cleared off the table. Governments, and especially the European Union, have no legal or moral right under a true democracy to legislate on what an individual can or cannot put into his or her own digestive tract for the purposes of nutrition and health. As long as that substance is manufactured to a satisfactory standard of quality and purity, it should not be outlawed. Our personal freedom and our liberties should not be negotiable in the interests of business and politics," explains Vitale Onorato, president of La Leva di Archimede, an association of consumers for freedom of choice based in Italy, which is co-operating with similar movements in other European countries.
La Leva di Archimede has been organising a collection of signatures on the Internet, to protest the directive and any restrictive regulations on natural products in general. The address of this signature collection, which is available in several languages, is: http://www.laleva.cc/petizione/english/intro_eng.html
For more information:
La Leva di Archimede, Rome, Italy
Phone: 003906 635884
To find additional information on the world wide web: