1. The European Union (EU) has developed a complex web of laws that attempt to restrict natural healthcare
  2. Twelve distinct steps can be identified as characteristic of the programme
  3. These steps are being introduced elsewhere in the world
  4. Three further levels of legislation play a vital role in the natural health crackdown: Codex Alimentarius, regulatory cooperation and convergence, and international trade agreements


We’ve all heard of the 12-step programmes used to help people conquer their addictions. But did you know that a far more sinister 12-step programme exists, one that regulators worldwide are using in an attempt to eliminate not addictions – but natural forms of healthcare? In this article, we expose this pro-big business agenda that is fostered by the world’s elite, and introduce you to the three broad ‘levels’ of legal instrumental firepower that are being trained on many forms of non-mainstream medicine.

EU on the regulation rostrum

As far as regulation of natural healthcare goes, the European Union (EU) is way out in front. To use a topical Olympic analogy, it’s standing on the podium, grinning smugly and brandishing its gold medal to the crowds while forgetting the words to the national anthem. 

Why do we say this? In short, the interlocking pieces of legislation brought in by the EU in recent decades – the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), the EU Medicines Code/Human Medicinal Products Directive, the Food Supplements Directive (FSD), the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) and the Novel Foods Regulation (NFR) – pose an enormous and concerted threat to many of the longest-standing and most effective forms of natural healthcare, used by millions of people in the EU and worldwide.

Worse than that, the justification for all these laws – covering the safest group of products consumed by human beings – is ensuring consumer safety, while also facilitating trade. This is the infamous double-edge sword of global trade, one that seems destined to work against the majority of citizens worldwide, while benefiting the biggest corporations and most powerful governments on the planet.

There’s no doubt, this complex of EU laws is bad, to put it mildly, for EU citizens. Unfortunately, citizens living in countries many thousands of miles from the EU are by no means immune from the kind of thinking that has imposed such draconian bureaucracy on Europe. Thank globalisation for that, and its one-size-fits-all, big business-friendly model so beloved of governments and elites worldwide. 

12 steps (but not to heaven)

The existing EU regulatory system consists of 12 key features (Table 1), which together aim to place unbreakable shackles around the entire natural healthcare sector. Close examination of the emerging regulatory systems of the USA and Canada – two countries widely considered far more freedom-loving than the EU – reveals precisely the same features, either already in place or coming into clearer focus all the time.

Table 1. Key features of the EU’s regulatory regime for natural products and comparison with the regulatory regimes of Canada and the USA.

A quick glance at the table immediately shows that Canada is already on an identical track to the EU.  And – surprisingly – the USA is already nearly two-thirds of the way down the same road.

This raises important questions: how did we get here, and what’s likely to happen next? And what can we do to change things?

Bypassing democracy

Noted Constitutional lawyer, Jonathan Emord, has often highlighted the US government’s neat sidestepping of the very democratic process on which the nation was founded some 200 years ago: “Around 75% of US laws,” says Emord, “now bypass Congress and the democratic process, having been delegated to a swathe of Federal Agencies, among them the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” The same process of handing unparalleled powers to the bureaucracy has been necessary to get to the same position in the EU and Canada. This problem was overcome by the EU’s very creation, since EU membership requires countries to hand their sovereign powers to the Brussels bureaucrats. Since this process is fundamentally undemocratic, t he EU is an ideal ‘proving ground’ for regulatory schemes that would be rejected by the people if put to a vote.

Of course, spreading the doctrine worldwide is another matter, which brings us back to the three levels of legislation we mentioned earlier.

Level 1: Codex Alimentarius

Many people have heard of Codex Alimentarius, but few are aware that it is, “An inter-governmental body that sets guidelines and standards to ensure ‘fair trade practices’ and consumer protection in relation to the global trade of food. Remember the double-edged sword we mentioned earlier? Although Codex is woefully misunderstood by the general public and many in the natural health movement alike, it represents an enormous threat to natural healthcare, for numerous reasons.

Codex is also – by design – very difficult to influence by any normal democratic process, as decisions are made by consensus among government officials present at meetings. And, when it comes to the representatives of those countries among the 170+ Codex members that consider themselves democratic, would you be at all surprised to learn that none are elected representatives of governments? They are all unelected bureaucrats, working almost entirely to a pre-agreed agenda.

These bureaucrats that populate the many Codex committees, covering every aspect of the human food supply, are heavily influenced by so-called international non-governmental organisations, or INGOs. INGOs overwhelmingly represent transnational corporations. As a result, potentially harmful substances like genetically modified foods, contaminants, additives and pesticide residues get an easy ride compared with beneficial substances like vitamins and minerals. Beneficial health claims for food constituents that might overlap with the intended functions of licensed drugs are also on the Codex ‘black list’.

In addition, the industrialised Western countries tend to have the most influence at Codex, especially when it comes to the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses, a committee we have monitored for years; the USA and the EU, working very closely with the German secretariat, exert by far the greatest influence, often supported by Australia. The US representatives are primarily comprised of Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) representatives, while those for the EU come directly from the European Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate-General (SANCO). Over recent years, we have observed EU polices on organic food, food supplements and health claims being incorporated into Codex guidelines and then being increasingly applied in other Codex member countries, such as the USA and Canada. Even the desperately inadequate safety testing for genetically modified (GM) crops saw first light in Codex’s Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology, which was disbanded in 2004 after it had done the job it set out to do.

Codex and health claims

And, while Codex guidelines are voluntary on the surface, giving regulators and governments a convenient cover when questioned they are legally binding in the case of trade disputes. Trade disputes are adjudicated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and are typically rigged enormously in the favour of the industrialised, Western countries that both developed and hold the balance of power at Codex Alimentarius.

Regulation of the health claims made on foods, food ingredients and dietary supplements has been a goal of Codex Alimentarius since at least 1997. Since then, the highly controversial Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) has been enacted in the EU – with parallel regulations in Canada, as we saw earlier – and similar moves are afoot in the USA. Under the NHCR, all health claims not approved by EFSA will be banned from the end of 2012, leaving the EU with a measly 222 health claims on 70 foods and food ingredients. In future, we are likely to see similar, Codex-mandated health claims regimes being pushed all over the world. It will be very interesting to see the reaction of countries like India and China, where traditional systems of medicine are deeply embedded in the culture, to regulations that see them unable to make claims about the health benefits of those traditions' Materia Medica.

Level 2: Regulatory cooperation and convergence

This process has been starkly obvious for some time now, particularly at Codex meetings where the European Commission and the FDA have been working ever closer. On July 2, 2007, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the controversial European authority from which the EC takes all its advice on food safety issues, and the FDA signed an agreement that formalised their closer collaboration.

The Trilateral Cooperation Charter (TCC), signed in 2004, signalled a push by regulators in the USA, Mexico and Canada to crack down on “drugs, biologics, medical devices, food safety, and nutrition.” It uses a bizarre definition of 'health fraud' to legitimise attacks on anything that competes with the pharmaceutical industry. Having received a lot of negative exposure after its initial crackdowns, including from International Advocate for Health Freedom, the Dr Rath Foundation, the National Health Federation, our colleagues at ANH-USA and others, it seems the international harmonisation agenda has been less visible under the TCC banner, while continuing unabated elsewhere.

In Australia and New Zealand, a 'trans-Tasman' regulatory agency, the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency (ANZTPA), will soon come into existence. In addition, talk of a health claims regime in both countries has started up at the outset of a process that will see New Zealand's presently liberal regulatory system brought into the far more restrictive Australian mould.

We can expect to see this process accelerate and spread in the coming years.

Level 3: international free trade agreements

Free trade agreements (FTAs) remove barriers to trade between countries – or, as is increasingly the case, trading blocs formed of multiple countries. In terms of Gross Domestic Product, measured by Pricing Power Parity (PPP), North America – including Canada – and the EU represent the two richest trading entities on earth.  

Figure 1. International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates of GDP/PPP in 2007 (Source;

Keeping it as simple as possible, the easiest way for FTAs to remove trade barriers is to harmonise regulations in the different countries/blocs involved. In the case of natural healthcare, FTAs create yet further pressure upon countries to reorganise themselves along the EU model – and, once the larger players are aligned in this way, pressure on smaller countries to follow suit becomes immense.  Inevitably, it means harmonising down, rather than up, to the lowest common denominator.  This suits the kinds of non-therapeutic, ‘natural’ products – often including synthetic ingredients and unpleasant or toxic tagalong excipients in formulations – produced by drug companies and sold in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Some of the most important trade agreements are:

There are many more FTAs in operation and pending worldwide. And, while participating governments hail them as essential for jobs, growth and development, they cause little but misery to many, if not most, citizens.


So, there you have it: the 12 steps and three levels of legal firepower that threaten natural healthcare worldwide. However, as an individual, you can always make a difference, as our Call to action below shows!

Call to action

  1. Send this story viral using every form of media available to you – email to all your contacts, post to your Facebook page, get Tweeting and utilise any other social media you’re familiar with! Knowledge is power, as they say, and without understanding the opposition, we won’t change anything
  2. Get involved whenever governments open up policy proposals for public consultation. Natural product suppliers in particular should make their voice heard in order to help shape policy in their favour, and citizens should never waste an appropriate opportunity
  3. Contact your elected representatives and express your concern over unelected bureaucrats making the decisions at international decision-making forums like Codex Alimentarius. Without an electoral mandate, these bureaucrats have no impetus to consider the electorate’s opinions on the matter. Ask your representative if he or she will take your concerns to the government


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