After 10 months of research, HAN Foundation Scientists say European Commission neglected human health in developing EU supplement frameworks. Today we announce publication of the first of several peer reviewed articles on this key subject.
For Immediate Release
5 May 2006
“EUROPEAN COMMISSION AVOIDED TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR HUMAN HEALTH” SAY SCIENTISTS FOLLOWING DETAILED STUDY OF EU DIRECTIVE
In The Precautionary Principle: A Critique in the Context of the EU Food Supplements (FS) Directive, appearing in this month's Environmental Liability journal, Dr. Jaap C. Hanekamp of the HAN Foundation provides a profound scientific and legal critique of the EU Food Supplements Directive . He concludes that, in the Directive, the European Commission avoided taking responsibility for health of European citizens.
The article is the first result of an independent scientific screening of the Directive from the perspectives of toxicology (Prof. Dr. A. Bast, Maastricht University) and risk assessment and risk management (Dr. J.C. Hanekamp). The 10-months study, which was sponsored by International Nutritional Company (INC), is of growing relevancy now that the EU Commission, EFSA and stakeholders are making efforts to fill in the blanks in the FS Directive. The setting of maximum levels is hotly debated and by July 2007, the Commission is bound to explain how it plans to regulate micronutrients other than vitamins and minerals. The main study of both Dr. Hanekamp and prof. Bast has been accepted for publication in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
The Directive, so contends Hanekamp in this first publication, is a solid example of how regulators have become increasingly preoccupied with managing their own political and professional risks and personal reputation. This so called secondary risk management creates a regulatory culture that, in the case of European food supplements policies, engenders a lopsided focus on presumed risks of excess toxicity, while simultaneously lecturing Europeans to ‘eat a varied and healthy diet'.
According to Hanekamp, the dietary habits of individual citizens have a far greater impact on health than the regulators' efforts to manage presumed risks of micronutrient intoxication. Whether looked at from the viewpoint of the classic micronutrient deficiencies or from the perspective of newly emerging healthy lifespan or optimum health concepts, micronutrient deficiencies pose an infinitely greater risk than intoxication.
Yet, against the backdrops of the all too common bias for negative information about possible health risks of products and activities, regulators can readily, easily and sharply profile “intoxication as a result of food supplements intake” as a target for regulation. Indeed, the dietary and lifestyle issues that involve nutritional deficiencies are beyond their regulatory reach, because regulators are not in a position to set rules and regulations that interfere with the individual dietary habits of European citizens. This most fundamentally misdirects the Directive.
INC's chairman Bert Schwitters underlines how “the article expounds how the Directive's implicit recourse to precaution seriously pre-empts market-participation by innovative economic parties. The European Commission's precautionary stance entails an unremitting assessment of increasing numbers of micronutrients that have already come or will come to market. This will obstruct a level-playing field, and will deprive economic parties from their rights to freely enter the European market. Since the precautionary principle does not require a sound scientific basis to ban or remove a certain product and excludes recourse, market participants' financial and scientific endeavours are constantly at risk.”
In a reaction to the publication, the director of the Alliance for Natural Health, Robert Verkerk PhD, comments:
“Advocate General Geelhoed and subsequently the European Court of Justice have shown up some of the glaring shortcomings of the first part of the regulatory framework developed by the EU for food supplements. But these problems will pale into insignificance when future parts of the framework are turned into law – unless we see a fundamental sea change in the EU's approach to food supplement regulation. The new system must take into account health promotion, as well as a scientifically and legally rational approach to consumer safety and harmonisation. Dr Hanekamp's first study provides us with an important milestone which we hope will help trigger this sea change. We impatiently await the publication of the main study.”
1) The European Food Supplements Directive Assessed: a Critique, Prof. Aalt Bast, Dr. Jaap Hanekamp; Environmental Liability journal, No 2, 2006; Lawtext Publishing Ltd, Oxfordshire, UK. [Click here for link to full paper].
2) Directive 2002/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council; 10 June 2002; On the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Food Supplements.
The HAN Foundation (Stichting Heidelberg Appeal Nederland) was established in the Netherlands in 1993 and named after the Heidelberg Appeal, a declaration signed in 1992 by over 3500 scientists. HAN is an independent non-profit making alliance of scientists and science supporters whose aim is to ensure that scientific debates are properly aired, and that decisions which are taken and action that is proposed are founded on sound scientific principles. Members are accepted from all walks of life and all branches of science. HAN has at present over 800 donors, including almost 200 professors. Further information: see www.stichting-han.nl.
International Nutrition Company
The International Nutrition Company, INC, is the Netherlands-based, worldwide source of Dr Jack Masquelier's original Oligomeric ProanthoCyanidins (OPCs). For further information, see www.inc-opc.com
Alliance for Natural Health
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is a Europe-wide non-profit alliance of consumers, doctors, complementary health practitioners, and innovative industry manufacturers and suppliers who have an interest in food supplements and natural health. More information, including details of the ANH's support base, will be found at www.anhcampaign.org.
Good science and good law underpin all of the ANH's work, and the scientific reports produced by the ANH are endorsed by many of the world's leading doctors and scientists working in the field of nutrition.