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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/20/09

The US Safe Haven for Dietary, Nutritional Supplements - Under attack... from within

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The natural health, alternative and integrated medicine 'safe haven' enjoyed in the United States is under direct attack. While we have been sounding the alarm for the last four years, many "experts" and leaders in the industry, who should have known better, remained doubtful, uncertain and some even apologetic. We continue to deal with unprecedented anti-vitamin laws passed in Europe in 2002, (EU Food Supplements Directive), and continue to work to thwart the United Nation's Codex Alimentarius Commission in their efforts to influence or enforce non-European nations to adopt these European laws. We now have an aggressive anti-vitamin PR / Media campaign being executed on our own soil and we need your help!

Make no mistake, this particular campaign is most significant. It is one which is attempting to systematically weaken the strongest defender of vitamin supplements, amino acids, herbs and traditional medicines in the world Â- the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

DSHEA was signed into U.S. law in 1994 in spite of the pharmaceutical lobby that frantically fought against it. DSHEA enabled a truly safe haven for unprecedented research and innovation to occur in an industry that frantically attempts to keep ahead of a giant petro-chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Industries well documented for having laid waste the soil, poisoned chemically and genetically altered our basic food supply while eliminating much of the nutrients we could have obtained from simple foods. And, we should not overlook the volume of falsified clinical studies, misrepresentations to FDA, illegal re-marketing and criminal negligence that seem to be the curse of the drug industry.

Now we find the U.S. dietary supplement industry facing a massive media onslaught placing it and the laws that protect and regulate it under a very critical spotlight. Can one be so blind as to miss the intent behind it? While we spend a lot of our time working to correct the volume of misrepresentations made in the media by paid "experts" and vested interests, we felt it important to demonstrate to our members, associates and natural health industry representatives themselves, that the attack on vitamins was NOT just overseas.

It is NOT just a European situation NOR is it one that has always been a problem limited to "over there." In fact, it is a REAL problem right here! In a review of government representatives in Washington, D.C. we could find no congressional or senatorial legislator, aide or administrator aware of any potential threat or problems that may lay ahead for vitamins, the natural health industry. One for one, we were glibly quoted how the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act pretty much "settled that argument in the 1990s."

The following is just a summary of articles that contain subtle and, in many instances, extremely obvious false and misleading information about DSHEA and the vitamin industry itself over the past two weeks. And while we are not in the practice of forwarding any campaign from an obvious adversary to the natural health industry, we felt you should be forewarned and better prepared.

The purpose of these articles is quite obvious Â- to create a new self fulfilling prophesy and pave the way for Codex Alimentarius to move in with standards based on the severe anti-vitamin laws from Europe. LA Times: A blog posted yesterday on LA Times sums up the growing consumer skepticism of dietary supplements and DSHEA.

"The 1994 passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act paved the way for a marketplace in which manufacturers of dietary supplements can churn out pure trash," states a blog. "It's time to re-examine the farcically named Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (just how is this educational?) and implement laws that prevent consumers from becoming guinea pigs for unscrupulous kitchen chemists."

Sports Illustrated - This follows on from an article in Sports Illustrated, which repeats claims that "the industry has become (...) a Pandora's Box of false claims, untested products and bogus science". "In 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which allowed supplements-broadly defined as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and other products that don't contain approved pharmaceutical drugs and don't claim to treat diseases-to be sold with no proof of effectiveness or safety, and without approval from the FDA," continues the article. "That legislation, heavy with lobbyists' fingerprints, razed virtually every barrier to entry into the marketplace."

San Francisco Chronicle - An article by renowned nutrition professor Marion Nestle, published early this week in states: "In the supplement world, lack of scientifically proven effectiveness has little relevance. Neither does safety." DSHEA, she said, was drafted by the supplements industry and resulted in the deregulation of these products. "Congress passed DSHEA on the basis of two quite questionable assumptions: that supplements are basically harmless, and that supplement-makers are basically honest....The law does not require supplement manufacturers to demonstrate the safety or effectiveness of their products to the FDA before selling them. Instead, the FDA must prove a supplement harmful by providing documentation from clinical trials or multiple case reports in court - a tedious process," claims Nestle.

FASEB Â- An article published last week in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), states: "Unfortunately, the $24bn/year 'dietary supplement' industry peddles subprime concoctions that can only be recalled after someone blows a whistle." It goes on to state that since 1994 FDA "has had no effective regulatory authority over dietary supplements, unless these nostrums cause harm or are doped with prescription drugs". The article's author, Gerald Weissmann says that DSHEA allows manufacturers to describe a supplement's effects on the structure or function of the body without substantial scientific proof, and without being required to carry drug-style warning labels.

The Herald Tribune Â- Another article that appeared last week in the Herald Tribune maintains that FDA has been "hampered" since the passage of DSHEA in 1994, when it warned of the seriousness of reported adverse events and their increasing number. "Little has changed since then, except the names of these unregulated products and their ingredients (...)" "Consumers deserve better. The supplement act should be changed to give the FDA adequate authority to ensure that the multibillion-dollar supplement industry meets essential safety standards."

The Star Tribune Â- An article in the Star Tribune paints a similar picture: "Thanks to a 1994 law that leaves this $22 billion-a-year industry far too lightly regulated, supplement manufacturers don't have to provide scientific proof of a product's purity, safety or effectiveness before they put it on the market," it sates. "Instead, the FDA generally steps in after problems are reported. If you're swallowing a supplement, congratulations: You're a test subject and part of a vast experiment to see if this stuff is safe."

When you see an article such as the ones noted above, please inform and send us a link to it. Send to You would also do well to question the source of the information and their actual intention. For those of you with sufficient knowledge, or expertise, you would do well to write a letter to the editor of the publication and provide your views as well as any proof of error by the reporter or quoted spokesperson.

It is our hope that this alert acts as something of a wakeup call to those within the natural health industry; suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, practitioners and consumers. We cannot take our right of access to natural, alternative and even integrated solutions for granted. The tremendous fight that succeeded and culminated in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 is about to be relaunched. We are looking for a few more people to help!

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Lord Rudi C. Loehwing (baron), Managing Director for a non-profit campaign organization; the World Institute of Natural Health Sciences, (WINHS.ORG). Producer and narrative director of documentary films, radio and television programs. (more...)

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