Back in March 2004 the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products (THMPD) was enacted laying down rules and regulations for the use of herbal products that had previously been freely traded.
After massive lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry, the directive required that all herbal preparations must be put through the same kind of procedure as pharmaceuticals. Even if that herb or herbal preparation has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years it should be treated like a drug with each herb in a compound having to be assessed separately with each procedure costing for £80,000 – £100,000.
Not only are these costs far in excess of anything that herbal manufacturers could support, but the procedures are totally inappropriate. Herbs are not drugs but preparations made from biological sources. They aren’t necessarily purified, as that can change their nature and efficacy, just as it can in food. It’s a distortion of their nature and the nature of herbalism to treat them like drugs.
This has come about through pressure from the pharmaceutical industry and Agribusiness to ensure that all aspects food and medicine are regulated under trade laws (which they can influence to their own advantage) rather than treating them as human rights issues. It’s this twisting that has resulted in the US Food and Drink Administration making outrageously absurd statements, such as claiming that Cheerios and walnuts quite literally become drugs simply because of health claims made for them.
However, this is not yet quite a done-deal. The regulations do not come into force until April 1st 2011 and organisations such as the Alliance for Natural Health are still fighting to protect herbal preparations. They are currently going to court in an attempt to stop the implementation of THMPD. And each of us can help.
At the bottom of this article from Gaia Health you will find details of your MEP and suggestions for letters of protest. (If you are using the email addresses at this link you may need to remove ‘localhost/’ from the end of the address.) It will only take a couple of minutes to write – and we will have not idea of what we have lost until we find that our favourite preparations are no longer on the shelves…