ANH raises herbal agenda in European Parliament

ANH-Intl executive and scientific director, Robert Verkerk PhD, today presented to a meeting of the Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC) in the European Parliament about the challenges and opportunities facing Indian herbal suppliers wishing to trade into the European Union (EU).

In the shadow of the stalled EU–India Free Trade Agreement, and while India faces attacks from both the US government and Big Pharma, India holds many of the keys to becoming a global healthcare leader. Not only is it the pharmacy of the developing world, but India is also the home of the 'science of life': the continually evolving, 4,000-year-old tradition of Ayurveda, which holds so many of the solutions for ageing societies burdened with chronic disease.

In his presentation, Dr Verkerk pointed to a number of initiatives that could dramatically improve Indian herbal exports to the EU. These include securing adequate safe havens for particular herbal species and herbal products as foods or food supplements, a process that ANH-Intl is convinced won't occur without judicial review in the European Court of Justice. Dr Verkerk also stressed the importance of improving quality controls for raw ingredients and finished products, and of developing a practitioner-specific regulatory regime. Finally, Dr Verkerk suggested that Indian companies and researchers should increase their research efforts in the area of health benefits and health promotion. The present focus on disease treatment, he believes, tends to encourage European regulators to (mis)classify products as unlicensed drugs.

Time for the Winter vaccine push?

As winter approaches in the Northern hemisphere, the vaccine machine is revving into top gear. US citizens are being spoiled for choice with more types of flu shot available than ever before, while in the UK, supermarkets and chemists now offer the flu jab as an added ‘convenience’ for shoppers. And if you’ve got a toddler and are squeamish about giving them a jab, there’s no need to worry as the Fluenz live attenuated nasal spray flu vaccine is being rolled out in the UK.

Despite ubiquitous media advertising, it’s worth remembering that 2010 and 2012 reviews on adult and child flu vaccines, respectively, from the respected Cochrane Collaboration both warned that, “Reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies”.

The 2012 Cochrane review on children’s vaccines also warned that, “Extensive evidence of reporting bias of safety outcomes from trials of live attenuated influenza vaccines impeded meaningful analysis...If immunisation in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required. The degree of scrutiny needed to identify all global cases of potential harms is beyond the resources of this review”.

Meanwhile, a UK High Court judge has set a disturbing precedent by ordering that two daughters, aged 11 and 15 years respectively, must receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) combined vaccination against their own and their mother’s wishes. Details of the ruling have been widely reported in the media.

Sign the petition to tell Bayer and Syngenta to drop their bee-killing lawsuits

Due to concerns about bee 'colony collapse disorder', the European Commission decided earlier this year to restrict the use of 3 neonicotinoid pesticides for a period of 2 years. The pesticides affected are clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. The ban will commence from 1 December 2013. Bayer and Syngenta, large chemical corporations, claim that the ban is ‘unjustified’ and ‘disproportionate’, and wish to overturn the ban. At the end of August, Syngenta announced that they had, “Submitted a legal challenge to the European Commission’s decision to suspend the use of thiamethoxam on bee attractive crops”.

Almost 250,000 people have so far signed the SumOfUs petition, calling for Bayer and Syngenta to drop their lawsuits against the European ban immediately. Please join us in adding your name to this petition if you have not already done so, and share widely on social media.

Stop the use of petroleum-based, artificial dyes in confectionary

M&Ms chocolate candies, manufactured by Mars Inc., may have been forced to clean up their act in Europe, but in the USA and other parts of the world, they’re still using petroleum-based artificial colourings! Artificial dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in children for many years. They may be cheaper, but they’re downright dangerous to health. Please sign this petition and help force Mars to become a more responsible manufacturer. Please help get the message out by sharing widely.