Banning Herbs for Health
By Staff News & Analysis - December 31, 2010

Europe to ban hundreds of herbal remedies … Hundreds of herbal medicinal products will be banned from sale in Britain next year under what campaigners say is a "discriminatory and disproportionate" European law. With four months to go before the EU-wide ban is implemented, thousands of patients face the loss of herbal remedies that have been used in the UK for decades. From 1 May 2011, traditional herbal medicinal products must be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner to comply with an EU directive passed in 2004. The directive was introduced in response to rising concern over adverse effects caused by herbal medicines. – UK Independent

Dominant Social Theme: It is important to be careful with herbs.

Free-Market Analysis: Codex Alimentarius-type legislation continues to grind ahead. The net result of this worldwide health initiative will be to regulate and license all products that have anything to do with health and nutrition. The upcoming ban on herbal remedies in Europe is just one element of what is to be comprehensive net of laws regulating every type of product that has some health or dietary impact.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission itself was created in 1963 by the World Health Organization to "develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme," according to the official Codex website. In this context, it sounds both responsible and necessary: "The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations."

But the reality is different. In reality, Codex initiatives favor big pharmaceutical companies that synthesize medications from plants and herbs – which are not available for patent. The powers-that-be control the large pharmaceutical companies and reap enormous profits from these patented "medicines," though sooner or later most of them reveal troublesome and even deadly side-effects. But by then, often, the substances have been generally introduced and tremendous profits have been reaped.

Herbal practitioners have pointed out (to no avail) that licensing herbs for safety and quality does not make much sense, especially given the cost. The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) points out that no products used in traditional Chinese medicine have been licensed though in Europe a few plant species have been licensed. But this just scratches the surface.

Getting herbs licensed apparently can cost upwards of US$100,000. This is a tolerable price for a few big-sellers but most herbs are not worth the time and trouble, let alone the expense. In the EU itself, people will be able to get herbs and other natural health remedies until the regulations are introduced. But predictably, they have been delayed as such regs often are when the Eurocrats are being cautious about implementation because of potential push-back. In the UK, however, people will NOT have access to herbal treatments unless the herbs are licensed.

Writing in the UK Telegraph, well-known libertarian politician and EU critic Daniel Hannan explains that three factors are in play when it comes to the ban. Eurocrats he points out, love regulating. "To the EU official, ‘unlicensed' is synonymous with ‘illegal', he writes. Second, he explains, the Eurocrats actively practice "the precautionary principle" when it comes to regulation. They seek to anticipate difficulties, though, as Hannen points out, you cannot prove a negative.

But the real reason, of course, for the ban has to do with the interests of Big Pharma. Big-selling herbal remedies will be licensed by Big Pharma, which will have something close to a monopoly. But herbs that are not huge sellers will fall by the wayside. They will not be licensed, nor offered by the big pharmaceutical chains.

Traditional health substances, not-so-coincidentally, are also coming under further attack in America. The recent Food Safety Modernization Act, gives the FDA the authority to move forward with Codex Alimentarius. Codex basically favors Western surgical traditions of medicine over natural remedies, and the law mandates that the FDA should try to sterilize food entering the US, which often destroys much of the food's nutritive qualities.

The law gives also mandates that the FDA inspect small farmers and even gardeners – as they may sell to farmers' markets. Those who wish not to be subject to FDA scrutiny must apply for an exemption, a process that includes onerous paperwork and no guarantee that the FDA will provide the exemption.

After Thoughts

It is perfectly possible that sooner or later vitamins themselves will be regulated and licensed. The impetus is always to harmonize regulations worldwide, and the goal is world government, run by the Anglo-American elites that have put these systems in place and continually adjust and expand them. Such regulations will ultimately be detrimental to people's health worldwide, but from the point of view of the powers-that-be, the costs are worth the price of harmonization – which continues to be pursued relentlessly.

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