Right to buy supps: campaigning can be effective

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by tansy, Nov 26, 2005.

  1. tansy

    tansy New Member

    The piece below was written by Patrick Holford a well known nutritionist in the UK. When our access to supps was under threat from European and world wide legislation there was a strong and well organised grassroots campaign. Many of us wrote to our MPs, Govt officials and Euro MPs. Even though the Labour party won the vote (to do nothing to stop the European Parliament's decisions) things have moved on since then. This clearly illustrates that we do have a voice, and we can make ourselves heard, providing we are willing to be persistant.

    Tansy

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    By Patrick Holford.

    **Thanks to the tireless campaigning of thousands of people, and probably
    you, the future of high dose vitamin supplements in Britain is looking
    secure. According to Caroline Flint, the Parliamentary Under Secretary
    of State for Public Health at the Department of Health. Speaking at a
    House of Commons meeting hosted by Consumers for Heath Choice this week,
    said that the Government will push for a ‘two tiered’ system whereby,
    whatever maximum upper levels for vitamins and minerals might be set for
    the EU, they intend Britain to be able to continue to sell vitamins and
    minerals under the current situation, which calls for ‘advisory notices’
    on certain high potency vitamins, rather than an actual ban. This
    alignment of UK Government with the wishes of people like us, who want
    free access to safe supplements, is a big step forward and one that
    could not have been achieved without the thousands of letters that I
    will urge you to write to your MP or MEP as and when it can make a
    difference.

    The other coup, achieved through an initiative I started with the
    Institute for Optimum Nutrition is that, as from last week the amino
    acid Tryptophan can once again be sold in Britain for the first time
    since it’s ban in 1990! We are still fighting to get the maximum dose
    for tryptophan pushed up from 220mg to 1,000mg – a subject that was
    fiercely debated last week in the House of Commons. We briefed MPs who
    presented formidable arguments. Here are a couple of snippets from the
    debate which I thought you’d find
    interesting…

    */Steve Webb MP:/* /The regulations propose a limit of 220mg. What is
    the process for reviewing that figure? Is it planned in a year’s time to
    raise the limit to 500mg if no one appears to have suffered any ill
    effects? The proposed maximum level for the United Kingdom is only a
    third of that in the Netherlands—a substantial difference. Why are we
    being more cautious than the Dutch? The level showing the lowest
    observed adverse effect is probably 20 times the figure that we are
    debating today, so this seems an extremely cautious approach. The
    estimated average tryptophan requirement in adults is greater than the
    figure that we are debating today. I am reliably informed that 220 mg is
    less than one would consume if one had a baked potato with cottage
    cheese and tuna salad for lunch. I do not know whether you had such a
    lunch, Mr. Jones, but if you did, you exceeded the tryptophan level that
    we are talking about today.

    *The Chairman:* That is far too healthy for me.

    *Rob Marris MP :* There might be a slight gloss on my reading of the
    regulations, but it seems that tryptophan is banned from food, except
    infant formula. That is not the precise wording, but I think that I am
    reading the regulations right. It seems strange to me that we should
    protect adults more than children./

    /*Steve Webb MP:* Will the Minister also say something about the Food
    Standards Agency’s ad hoc expert advisory committee on vitamins and
    minerals? I appreciate that tryptophan is not a vitamin or a mineral—I
    understand the distinction—but the dosage is lower than the amount that
    the committee tends to recommend. It is a question of consistency. The
    FSA has a policy not to impose so-called safe upper limits on
    supplements of vitamins and minerals, but opts instead for warnings./

    /*Caroline Flint, for the Goverment:* It is not a case of leaving things
    for a year, coming back to them and saying, “That’s it.” Our approach
    must be based on building a body of scientific evidence, and looking at
    the basis on which countries such as the Netherlands make decisions. I
    am not advocating that we simply adopt the basis on which they make
    their decisions, because that would be rather silly; if we did that, we
    might as well decide these issues on a Europe-wide basis. We need to
    continue looking at the evidence, at what is happening in countries that
    have had tryptophan on the market for longer, and at the levels that
    they set. We also need to look at advisory statements, for example,
    which are more appropriate in terms of the setting of levels./

    You may recall that the letter I circulated to you in October pointed
    out that the Food Standards Agency’s so-called ‘consultation’ on the
    tryptophan legislation amounted to organisations like ION sending in
    their arguments, in this case against the 220mg limit, no further debate
    or disclosure of such responses, then enacting the legislation as
    planned! We complained saying that this lack of disclosure and
    discussion among experts was not in the public’s best interest. Here’s
    the Governments response

    /*Caroline Flint, for the Goverment:* There were some concerns about the
    process and about when people were getting that information, for which I
    apologise. We have discussed the problem with the FSA and will ensure,
    as far as possible, that it will not happen again. We want people to
    feel that their views are being taken on board and that the process is
    transparent/.

    I am personally delighted to hear that Government is starting to listen
    to the logic, science and common sense and I wanted you to know that
    your letters to MPs, MEPs and Government really can and have made
    a difference.[This Message was Edited on 11/26/2005]