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When quiet commitment prevails

MagazineJuly 2005 (Vol. 16 Issue 4)When quiet commitment prevails

Every so often, a person comes along who demonstrates that power and even money often pale against that unstoppable powerhouse envisaged by Margaret Mead: a small group of "thoughtful, committed citizens

Every so often, a person comes along who demonstrates that power and even money often pale against that unstoppable powerhouse envisaged by Margaret Mead: a small group of "thoughtful, committed citizens.

The latest such person is Dr Robert Verkerk. Several years ago, he discovered that the European Union was planning to pass the Food Supplements Directive, which would ban many forms of supplements and put a low-dose ceiling on others. Under the guise of 'consumer safety', the clear intent of the directive was solely financial: to help pharmaceutical companies produce vitamin products in bulk to sell across Europe and to crush the opposition.

Verkerk had no personal interests to protect; he holds a PhD in sustainable farming. Nevertheless, knowing that our modern soils are so depleted of vital nutrients, he simply believed that this planned directive and others like it were disgraceful and wrong.

He decided to create the Alliance for Natural Health, and spent many months in Brussels, attempting to educate European ministers on the necessity and safety of vitamins and natural supplements. Rob was also in the steering committee of our own effort, the Health Freedom Movement, which aimed to alert the public and to get all members of the alternative community to hold hands.

Without money or even the support of a number of his peers in the alternative community, Rob kept his head down and his vision clear. He and his small band spent countless hours gathering support among the alternative-medicines industry, and assembling the evidence to prove to politicians that the directive was based on poor science.

Despite all efforts, the EU Food Supplements directive was passed in Europe in 12 March 2003, and ratified by the UK in mid-July of that year.

At that point, in January, Rob and his band filed a legal challenge to the directive in the European Courts of Justice. On 5 April of this year, following the ANH challenge, the Advocate General Geelhoed, senior advisor to the ECJ, gave his Opinion on the EU directive.

In his statement, he concluded that: "The Food Supplements Directive infringes the principle of proportionality because basic principles of Community law, such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty and of sound administration have not properly been taken into account. It is therefore invalid under EU law."

In other words, the EU directive is illegal - too restrictive and based on flawed science.

It should be emphasised that the Advocate General's Opinion is not a ruling. His role is simply to present reasoned, public opinions on the cases brought before the Court. The final judgement will be made by the ECJ justices in mid-June. Nevertheless, this Opinion is a strong 'recommendation' and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the justices follow it.

If the ANH's lawsuit prevails, a European-wide directive, bought and paid for by the richest industry in the world, will have been crushed by a tiny band of individuals whose only advantage was their clear-eyed resolve.

Nevertheless, this is only the first hurdle. Even if the Alliance wins its lawsuit, Big Pharma has backed laws and directives all over the world that will outlaw our right to have the most basic nutrients we need to support and maintain robust good health.

Every so often, a person comes along who is wedded to something larger and more fundamental than himself. The quiet fortitude of Rob Verkerk, who has mortgaged his house three times to support this campaign, has been nothing less than heroic. Please give generously to the Alliance for Natural Health (www.alliance-natural-health.org) so that they can keep up the fight for us all.


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