30th June 2009

Dr Robert Verkerk presented last night at an awareness-raising seminar held at the Traffic Club in central Warsaw, Poland.  The seminar—the first of it’s kind in Poland—was hosted by a small but dynamic group, some of whom have connected through their mutual interest the ANH’s work, in order to raise awareness of the problems facing the organic and natural health sector in their country. 

Dr Robert Verkerk with Hona Puciato translating during the seminar

In the last six months this active group have set up the Polish campaign organisation, Kampania Natura Bez Granic (‘Nature Without Borders’), created a dedicated website, translated many of the ANH flyers into Polish and linked with other organisations, such as the Coalition for GMO-free Poland, which includes a further 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs).  The campaign hopes to balance the lack of public information and political communication with regard to the many changes, some detrimental or even insidious, that have taken place since Poland became a member of the European Union (EU).  This is likely to be a common picture amongst other Eastern European countries that have entered the European Union since the EU enlargment programme, which began in 2004.

The Natura Bez Granic team with Robert Verkerk and Meleni Aldridge (ANH), and Hona Puciato (translator)

It is heartening to see the group's passion and commitment in response to the growing concern amongst significant numbers of Polish people who are seeing rapid erosion of their traditional systems—from farming to food to freedom of choice in healthcare (Poland has had a long history of use of herbal medicine, which is now seriously threatened by the EU’s draconian clamp down on natural health).  Countries like Poland and others in Eastern Europe spent decades escaping from repressive regimes and were seduced into joining the European Union with promises of democratic freedom and technological advancement.  In less than five years since their accession to the EU, those promises now seem hollow.  Sovereignty has virtually been lost and been replaced by an authoritarian unelected bureaucracy based in Brussels, whilst the agricultural economy, which was based on diverse small scale farming communities, is increasingly being replaced with large scale agri-business, typified by the arrival in Poland of the US pork-giant Smithfield Foods.  Not only this, but Poland’s rich history in natural and botanical medicine is in the process of being dismantled through a series of European directives and regulations, to be replaced—as in all other parts of the European Union—with a system of orthodox medicine based on patented and licensed pharmaceutical drugs.

The evening programme offered two keynote speakers—ANH’s Rob Verkerk and Roman Andrzej Sniady PhD, an agricultural scientist, educator and president of Kampania Natura Bez Granic.  Dr Sniady holds a post at the Agricultural University of Wroclaw, Poland and is very active in promoting sustainable organic rural development, as well as being a leading voice in the Polish anti-GM campaign.

Dr Robert Verkerk and Dr Roman Sniady

The evening was an unqualified success with many more attendees than originally expected, despite the baking heat which resulted in a fierce storm that knocked out the electrics three quarters of the way through the evening.  However, the show must go on and go on it definitely did—in the near darkness without the PA system or the benefit of the powerpoint slide show—a real challenge for Hona and Tomek Pakula who was assisting with translation! The incredibly resourceful Polish camera crew who were filming the event were unfazed by the challenging conditions and promptly swapped to their infra-red camera.  We will hopefully be adding the link to the finished video shortly, which will be in English with Polish subtitles.

Standing room only at the first seminar on Codex and natural health in Poland


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