Poison at the EU's heart

By Jeffrey Titford MEPIT passed relatively unnoticed but last month the House of Lords severely chastised the Government over the EU's Food Supplements Directive.

By Jeffrey Titford MEP

IT passed relatively unnoticed but last month the House of Lords severely chastised the Government over the EU's Food Supplements Directive.  This poisonous directive will outlaw the sale of 300 vitamins and minerals in this country, which are popular with millions, not least myself. 

The EU has produced a limited list of permitted nutrients and anything not on the list will be banned, even if they have been sold and safely used in the UK for many years. 

Any manufacturer who wants to get a substance onto the approved list must submit it to an expensive and bureaucratic licensing process, which will involve them in producing extensive evidence that it is safe.  Many of these manufacturers are warning that this will be prohibitively expensive and will play into the hands of the larger pharmaceutical companies and destroy many smaller makers of alternative medicines. 

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This latter point highlights one of the real problems with the European Union and the motivation behind this rotten legislation, for it is the major pharmaceutical companies that can afford the expensive lobbyists who put so much pressure on the European Commission and its legislative sausage machine. 

The pharmaceutical giants know that alternative medicines are one of their strongest competitors and they have been looking for a way to control them and through the EU, they have found their solution.  The EU is a major tool of big business.  These corporate giants are delighted to have the EU, because it means that they can concentrate their lobbying efforts in one place – Brussels.  To get what they want, they no longer have to lobby individual governments.  They can get the European Commission to impose new regulations on fifteen different countries, and ten more soon.

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The House of Lords took a dim view of the matter last month and passed a motion by 132-79 calling upon the Government to revoke the Food Supplements (England) Regulations and to re-negotiate the Food Supplements Directive with the European Commssion to allow 'safe and appropriately labelled' supplements to be marketed.  The motion also called for simpler procedures for adding substances with a long history of safe use to the EU's permitted list and that maximum permitted levels of vitamins and minerals should be "based on sound science".

Although the House of Lords can do sterling work in obstructing this legislation and in quite rightly pointing out to the Government that it is badly letting down the national interest, ultimately the Commission will get its way.  This Directive must come into force in 2005 and our Parliament is powerless to stop it.  Millions will be affected, including elderly people who have used herbal medicines for years to combat painful arthritis and rheumatism.  They will suddenly find their medicines won't be available anymore.

Jeffrey Titford is UK Independent Party Euro MP for the East of England. www.jeffreytitfordmep.co.uk

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