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Brexit means Brexit…

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The Conservative Party conference of early October marked the decision by British PM Theresa May to reveal her true sovereign colours following the June referendum. But committed Europhiles won’t like it, as she’ll be doing deals with the likes of Canada, China, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea, all of which are willing to engage in free-trade negotiations with the UK – and the excitement in the British air has been palpable.

Even Brexit doubters have raised eyebrows at the prospect of getting rid of the EU-derived red tape that has for years unashamedly strangled many small businesses and their capacity to innovate. The natural-health sector was particularly hard hit, given the precarious legislative balancing acts that many products were forced to endure on the legal borderline between foods and drugs.

But like many marriages that eventually fall apart, the relationship lasted a few decades because some, especially those in high places in the government, banks and transnational corporations, perceived greater benefits than risks or costs.

While it seems impossible to find any consensus on quantifying those benefits, just looking at the increasing contributions of the UK as part of its EU membership fee and public-sector benefits shows that the picture wasn’t pretty. Certain patterns, like the tendency for the stronger economies of Germany, France and the UK to prop up the weaker ones of Greece, Italy and some of the newer Eastern European countries, are also undeniable.

The fact is, the opportunity arising out of 52 per cent of the British people deciding to leave the EU goes much further than the much-publicized issues of immigration and the free international movement of EU citizens. It’s also linked to a deep disdain among many for the gamut of laws originating in Brussels that have impacted our lives in negative ways.

Thus, the Alliance for Natural Health has been working hard to build a group of united interests to influence the process and achieve the best outcomes out of the legislative reshuffling over the coming years in the UK.

We’re thinking big: we’d like to see a model that can also serve as a template for other parts of the world. The overbearing EU regulatory model has had an insidious influence and yet it’s seen by many governments as the ideal template. Canadians, Australians, South Africans and others look to it as a working exemplar. Its architecture is mirrored in the international food standards, guidelines and recommendations created through the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the intergovernmental body that decides what food standards should become regional laws to supposedly enable fair global trade and adequate consumer protection.

The problem is that the Codex is geared towards big businesses that primarily want to transport and sell sterilized, genetically modified, overly preserved and processed foods from one side of the globe to the other. In the end, it works against those who want fresh local produce bursting with bioenergy and life, or raw milk, or supplements full of vital, therapeutic active ingredients.

The group of strategic partners we’re assembling represent all sectors linked to natural health – from consumers and natural-health practitioners to medical doctors and companies that manufacture and supply products and services. The common thread running through these groups is they all care passionately about making a difference in people’s lives by exercising free choice in the purchasing and use of natural-health products.

Equally, natural-health companies need to communicate relevant information to consumers to allow them to make informed choices in the marketplace. We need to establish clear targets for our Brexit campaign, and there’s one piece of EU legislation that all our interest groups want to see left on the other side of the channel: the EU nutrition and health claims Regulation.

This is the EU law that banned over 2,000 common health-benefit claims that were widely in use before its 2007 implementation. The Regulation includes bans on any health claims for essential amino acids – without which we would die. The term ‘superfood’ is also banned, and it is illegal to refer to products as ‘antioxidants’, including even well-researched compounds like resveratrol and coenzyme Q10.

Yet, the series of fundamental flaws that runs so deep in this legislation has so far resisted numerous challenges in the courts. Brexit allows us to dispense with it entirely.

There has never been such an incontrovertible abundance of scientific opinion and clinical experience to support the use of specific foods and nutrients to prevent or remedy many of the major disease burdens faced by populations today. Indeed, they make the majority of drugs used in primary care look like blunt, indiscriminate weapons.

So, unless governments are choosing to work against the interests of the public, it makes no sense to put up obstacles to getting this vital, life-saving information out there. That’s our number one goal – watch this space.

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