Health Sciences Institute e-Alert

September 16, 2002

Dear Reader,

This was the headline I came across on the BBC News web site last month:

“Warning on Vitamin Use”

Unfortunately that’s not a misprint. Britons are being warned about the use of supplementary vitamins in what can only be described as a propaganda campaign designed to create a negative mindset toward vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.

And who’s doing the warning? A regulatory office of the British government called the Food Standards Agency (FSA) - which is also telling UK citizens that anyone who eats a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t need any supplements at all. (More on that in a moment.)

And why is FSA sending out this negative message? The answer to that tells the tale of an economic and ideological battle with extremely damaging repercussions for dietary supplements in Europe, England and even the U.S.

Europe on the ropes

Imagine our worst nightmare about the FDA coming true. That’s a reasonable description of the current European Union (EU) plan to seriously limit the dosage and distribution of food supplements throughout Europe. For millions of health-conscious citizens in the EU, this nightmare is a reality.

This past April I sent you an e-Alert (“Writing on the Wall” 4/29/02) about the “European Union Directive on Dietary Supplements” passed in March by the European Parliament (the legislative body representing the 15 European Union countries). In that e-Alert I told you about the Directive timetable which calls for a transition period to review, revise, and implement the new regulations. In June of 2005, the following elements of the Directive are expected to become law:

* Vitamin supplements will be classified as medical drugs and will be available by prescription only.

* Dosages will be limited to “safe” levels, which in many cases will be too low to be effective.

* Many supplement ingredients that are currently widely available will become illegal.

What are the health consequences of these restrictions, and what does it mean for the future of dietary supplements worldwide?

I hardly know where to start.

Invitation to poor health

First let’s look at who we’re dealing with.

The EU Directive states: “In order to ensure a high level of protection for consumers and facilitate their choice, the products that will be put on the market must be safe and bear adequate and appropriate labeling.”

The first half of that statement is widely recognized as pure bureaucratic double-speak. Consumer choice will not be facilitated, it will be severely reduced. And consumer protection will not be ensured, it will be deliberately withheld. Consumers currently enjoy a wide range of choice in their vitamin and herbal supplements. And many consumers rely on these supplements to help them prevent health problems and to fight specific diseases. Under the Directive, millions of European Union citizens will not be allowed to practice prevention as they wish, so any claim of facilitated choice and a high level of protection is a transparent deception.

You might wonder why the European Union would want its citizens to have less access to dietary supplements as a means to improve their health. For the answer to that, just follow the money. Without access to prevention, the citizens of EU countries will inevitably be forced to rely on prescription drugs. That, of course, will create a boost in profits for international pharmaceutical companies, some of whom just happen to have direct links to several influential European Union commissioners. For instance: one prominent EU commissioner from the Netherlands is also a member of the supervisory board of the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world - Merck, Sharp and Dohme.

The logic and economic motivation behind that “high level” of “facilitated” double-speak is all too clear.

Where it is & where it’s going

Meanwhile, back in the UK, things are not looking good. It’s now considered a certainty that when the drastically reduced list of allowed dietary supplements is enforced, as many as 2,000 or more health supplement stores will be forced to close. This will have grave consequences on both the health and economics of UK communities.

And it puts the government of the UK in a bind. On one hand, many outraged citizens and their representatives in the British Parliament are doing what they can to petition the government and the European Union to ease the restrictions of the Directive. On the other hand, the UK is a member of the EU and must abide by its laws. So there is clearly a sector of the government that simply wants to go along with the EU Directive while ignoring the overwhelming cry against it. Enter the FSA with what appears to be a campaign designed to change the public mindset about supplements. In so many words, the FSA is saying, “What’s the big fuss? They’re just vitamins - they don’t really do anything, and they’re VERY DANGEROUS at high levels.”

The FSA has stated that supplements are pointless for anyone who eats a healthy, balanced diet. Aside from the widespread disagreement on what exactly constitutes a proper diet, how many people do you know who eat anything close to a genuinely healthy and balanced diet? Dr. Ann Walker, a representative of the Health Supplements Information Service in the UK, told BBC News that, “the government’s own survey figures consistently show that the modern diet provides less than target levels of folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.”

Today, anyone in the UK who wishes to supplement their modern diet with these necessary nutrients can easily do so. But in a few short years all that will change.

There are many more issues to address on this topic. In tomorrow’s e-Alert I’ll tell you how the EU Directive may impact in very negative ways on the future of supplement availability in the U.S., give you specifics about the status of certain supplements within the Directive, and let you know what action you can take to lend your voice to the huge public outcry against these irresponsible restrictions.


Health Sciences Institute e-Alert

September 17, 2002

Dear Reader,


That's the word I keep coming across in official documents describing the efforts of the European Union to curb the distribution and dosage of dietary supplements.

They want to "harmonize" regulations. And who doesn't want harmony? Harmony is wonderful - unless it's used as double-speak to describe unnecessarily harsh restrictions on the availability of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.

"Out of tune" would be a far better way to describe this troubling situation that health-conscious Europeans find themselves in. But brace yourself. The future of the EU Directive reaches far beyond Europe.

"Protection" no one needs

In yesterday's e-Alert I gave you some background on the "European Union Directive on Dietary Supplements." Among the 15 European Union (EU) nations, this Directive reclassifies vitamin supplements as "medical drugs" (available only by prescription), mandates low dosage levels, and outlaws many supplement ingredients that are currently widely available. Created to "protect" consumers, the Directive will do exactly the opposite.

The United Kingdom, Holland and Sweden will be particularly hard hit by the Directive because these three countries currently have few restrictions on supplements. When the Directive takes effect, however, thousands of health stores will go out of business as vitamins and herbal supplements will be available only in pharmacies and with a doctor's prescription.

So, for instance, a middle-aged woman in Liverpool, England, who has a dangerously elevated homocysteine level will no longer have the option of reducing her risk of heart disease with a vitamin B dosage of her own choosing. If she's currently taking 5 mg of folic acid daily, under the new Directive she will be legally restricted to a prescription of 1 mg per day. If she's taking a 100 mg dose of B6, she'll be restricted to 10 mg. And her pantothenic acid (B5) intake of 500 mg will drop to 200 mg. These maximum dosage levels have been chosen to "protect" her (so we're told), when in fact the protection she needs the most will be unavailable.

A gathering storm

In addition to these essential B vitamins, low maximum dosage levels have also been set for vitamin C, niacin, and vitamin E. But at least they made it on the list of allowed nutrients. Approximately 350 supplement ingredients are missing from the list. If they are not added to the list by June 2005, they will be deemed illegal throughout the European Union. Supplement manufacturers may submit "technical dossiers" to support applications for the inclusion of individual elements or formulations on the so-called "positive list." But the EU has made this process so expensive and time consuming that many manufacturers simply can't afford the costs involved. As a result, many safe formulas and nutrients that have been on the market for decades will soon be banned.

So the outlook for the future of dietary supplements in Europe is decidedly gloomy. But if you're a U.S. citizen and you're thinking that it can't happen here - think again.

The U.S. is one of the 165 member countries of the Codex Alimentarius Commission - an international food standards program created by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations. The purpose of this commission is to protect the health of consumers and to ensure fair trade practices - two of the stated goals of the EU Directive. In fact, as I said above, one of the sources I came across described Codex as a vehicle for "harmonizing" international food trade. Just the sort of "harmony" that we don't need.

Consider these factors in the association of the U.S. and the Codex Alimentarius Commission:

* The WHO regards all dietary and herbal supplements to be "drugs."

* The Codex Alimentarius Commission has made it very clear that it wants to limit over-the-counter sales of some dietary supplements while reclassifying others as pharmaceuticals, available only through a pharmacist.

* The U.S. has one vote on the Codex Commission. The European Union represents 27 votes on the commission: the 15 votes of its member countries and 12 votes of the 12 EU candidate countries.

* Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, Codex decisions override national and local decisions.

* Member countries (including the U.S.) that refuse to "harmonize" with WTO directives may be subject to restrictive trade sanctions, designed to persuade agreements by using severe economic pressure.

* The European Union is the United States' largest trade and investment partner, with a yearly two-way trade in goods and services that is estimated to be close to $600 billion.

"Harmony" never sounded so awful.

Use your voice

The remarkably harsh restrictions of the EU Directive on Dietary Supplements have met with an enormous worldwide protest from people who correctly see this process as an infringement on their right to make their own health choices. More than 600 million people added their names to an online petition against the Directive when it was passed last March.

You can find more information about the Directive and read the petition against it at This web site was created by Dr. Matthias Rath, a leading researcher in the field of natural treatments for cancer, and one of the most prominent campaigners against the EU Directive.

But we shouldn't stop there. This directive will impact our borders before we know it. Now is the time to write to your representatives, to your senators, to the president, and demand continued free access to natural therapies. A web site called provides a complete listing of all the government e-mail addresses you'll need to let U.S. leaders know just how vitally important this issue is.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

"Directive 2001, EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Approximation of the Laws of the Member States
Relating to Food Supplements" European Parliament Session
Document C5-0640/2001, 12/10/01
"Food Supplements Directive" Food Standards Agency, 8/1/02
"Warning on Vitamin Use" BBC News, 8/30/02
"Food Supplements Directive" Consumers for Health Choice
"Drugs Law is Bitter Pill for Health Shops" Sunday's Telegraph, 7/02
"How You may have already Lost Your Right to Take Vitamin
Supplements" John Hammell, International Advocates for Health Freedom
"Government Advisors Recommend Banning B6 above 10mg" Patrick Holford

World Domination Parts I and II from HSI e-Alert September 16 and 17, 2002. Free sign up for these e-Alert letters are available from