Website editor’s note:  The following is a press release regarding a legal challenge to the Natural Health Products bill (previously known as the  Natural Health and Supplementary Products bill).

Background information about the issues raised in this piece may be found at a number of links on our website including HERE, HERE and HERE.

If you would like to write to your MP, as Health Freedom Trust NZ recently recommended, there is information (including links to email addresses for MPs at this link of our website.

The legal brief upon which the press release below is based may be downloaded here:

NHP Bill Legal Brief received April 13 2016

Legal Challenge To The Natural Health Products Bill

 

PRESS RELEASE

13th April 2016

 

An alliance of Natural Products companies, doctors, and affected individuals are mounting a legal challenge to the provisions of the Natural Health Products bill (see attached legal brief). 

 

The government intends to present the Natural Health Products Bill for its final reading shortly with provisions that resemble the original bill which was abandoned in the face of huge public opposition. The Ministry of Health has already began to implement the bill’s anticipated provisions. Analysis of the latest version of the bill released on 15th March shows it will greatly disadvantage traditional medicine affecting the healthcare choices of tens of thousands of NZers.

In summary:

 

1) The bill prevents any individual from communicating in any way, even in an email or other personal communication, and even by implication, that any health product that is sold anywhere in New Zealand can assist in the treatment of any health condition unless it is an allowed claim. Every time our scientific understanding of the health benefits of foods and plants increases, we will have to pay a fee to the government and ask permission to speak to one another about it. If a plant or food benefits a serious condition this permission will be withheld. This will have the effect of restricting the right of individuals to seek a cure for any illness especially those for which modern medicine has no proven curative interventions. Thereby denying our right to choose.

 

2) The bill states that the regulation of natural health products should be proportionate to the risks associated with their use however the also bill specifies that this cannot be enforced in a court of law. This means that unfair decisions cannot be challenged in the courts which is a denial of justice. The government has presented no evidence of risk from natural products to justify the bill.

 

3) The bill is discriminatory against ethnic and cultural practices in as much as it claims to allow the practice of traditional medicine but will actually restrict it, since the bill fails to understand or take account of the nature of the practice of traditional medicine.

 

4) The Australian and Canadian lists used by the Ministry of Health as the basis for its draft list of permitted ingredients were compiled using heavy-handed methodologies in conflict with the lighter regulatory principles of the NZ bill. As a result, a very significant number of herbs will be restricted without just cause. For example the following very common kitchen foods and well known folk remedies are already on the list to be restricted in various ways by Medsafe:

 

* Aloe Vera                                           * Cardamon                                                       * Betel Nut

* Neem                                                 * Mustard                                                          * Tea

* Coconut                                              * Almond                                                          * Castor

* Tamarind                                            * Valerian                                                         * Grape

 

This is ridiculous. The fact that 25% of commonly used Ayurvedic ingredients are also being restricted means that traditional medicine will be restricted from the outset. This means that some companies could be forced to close as soon as the bill comes into force. Some people who rely on natural medicine will suddenly be unable to continue to manage their own healthcare.

 

5) The bill is outdated since it fails to take account of many recent research results which verify the effectiveness of complementary medicine. This is a huge missed opportunity with significant negative downstream consequences for public health.

 

6) The bill’s definition of a natural health product will confuse the public as the draft list of permitted ingredients already includes three thousand synthetic substances which can now be described as natural. This fails to protect the public’s right to information and choice.

 

7) The Ministry of Health and its proposed Authority are being encouraged by past statements of government ministers in select committee or to parliament to impose ill-defined restrictions that will fall outside the written text of the bill. The bill should be amended to include safeguards and clauses that cover and define all the substantive intentions of the legislation.

 

8) The bill will restrict the application scientific advancements in preventive healthcare which are based on plants. This will prop up the current allopathic monopoly of aspects of government healthcare thereby imposing major limitations on potentially significant gains in public health, quality of life, longevity, and very importantly, the cost of our healthcare system. In contrast, properly prescribed allopathic medicines are now the third leading cause of death in USA.

 

9) The bill does not mandate a rational decision-making process. Ministry of Health processes adopted to date do not reflect the regulatory principles of the bill. An alternative rational decision tree is suggested which will protect the practice of traditional medicine (see attached legal brief).

 

10) The definitions of a food, a health benefit, and a natural health product so overlap as to render the clauses of the bill contradictory to one another. Therefore the introduction of the Natural Health Products Bill will result in the rule of confusion rather than the rule of law. This confusion has been the subject of decisions by the EU courts which have ruled that plants should not be regulated in the manner that the NZ bill mandates.

 

Conclusions of the legal brief: The bill in its present form:

 

  • Is unnecessary, other legislation already covers the areas it seeks to regulate
  • Confuses foods, natural products, and medicines, and their effects
  • Classes synthetic chemicals under the term natural which will confuse the public
  • Poses obstacles to matters of fact, scientific enquiry, and everyday communication
  • Has a provision that prevents redress in a court of law for inconsistencies
  • Fails to define rational procedures to fulfill its aims including proportionate risk
  • Imposes out-dated restrictions on health care, self-care, and preventive health care
  • Makes an arbitrary and undefined distinction between mild and serious conditions
  • Inhibits the practice of traditional medicine and the availability of cultural foods
  • Is a Henry VIII bill which fails to protect the public from arbitrary restrictions
  • Confers a commercial advantage on large-scale manufacturers of nutraceuticals
  • Has allowed the MoH to adopt a permitted ingredient list inconsistent with the bill
  • Has unjustified restrictive provisions in conflict with the Bill of Rights

 

NB: The legal brief was prepared by Dr Guy Hatchard, formerly director for the Natural Product Industry sector at Genetic ID. Genetic ID is a global food testing company. 

 

 

The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine supports freedom of choice concerning health care.

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