Why we do what we do in the way that we do

Updated: 14/10/2010

Author: Dr Robert Verkerk

As the severity of threats to our ability to maintain access to natural health mounts, it is ever more important that the most effective strategies are implemented. Natural health faces probably the greatest threat yet encountered, as globally coordinated plans for highly restrictive legislation, dreamed up by powerful governments and corporations, are proposed or rolled out. These restrictions are falsely justified by a need to protect consumers from natural health products, proven to be easily the safest things we put in our mouths.
   
History gives us some insight over the damage that can be wreaked by regulation and scientific opinion when it is turned against approaches to healthcare that deviate from those taught at medical colleges. One such challenge, the effects of which the integrative, natural and ‘alternative’ medicine community still suffers from today, includes the infamous Flexner Report of 1910. The Report saw disciplines like naturopathy and homeopathy cast aside from the mainstream because Abraham Flexner deemed that the principles on which they were based did not conform sufficiently to those embodied by evidence-based, western, scientific medicine. Western medicine as we currently know it was therefore born post-Flexner. It then started to run amok in the period post-WWII when the massively growing field of organic chemistry started pumping out patented drugs, pesticides and other new-to-nature chemicals. You know the rest.

The challenges we face today are unprecedented. But they don’t come in the form of a single report. They come in the form of a mass of white papers, legislative proposals and partially and fully implemented laws. These laws don’t bite all at once. They are planned to act incrementally over many years so that we don’t get too upset about them. It’s what we often refer to as the ‘boil the frog slowly’ approach, in which the frog fails to jump out of the water as it becomes accustomed to the slowly increasing temperature of the water around it.

Not only does the regulation unfurl over many years, it is also exquisitely timed to coincide with carefully planned attacks against natural medicine, delivered by a media controlled heavily by some of the world’s most powerful business interests. This is what we now face in Europe with a raft of EU laws that will impact natural medicine. Many of them are already passed but have yet to be fully implemented. But their implementation dates are built-in and so we know the effects will be upon us in the years ahead. In the USA, we also see increasing threats to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) which liberalised America’s dietary supplement market following mass citizen protests against  planned restrictions. There is no doubt that there is big pressure to harmonise the legal mechanisms in different parts of the world, this being another reason why we feel it’s essential to have a broad base of activity so we can monitor, influence or impact bad laws as they attempt to curtail our freedom or cause us harm.

It’s of no surprise that different people, groups and organisations have decided that there is more than one way to tackle these threats. In this blog, I am really just laying down some kind of a marker that explains a little more about why we do things at the ANH in the way that we do, whether it’s in Europe, the USA, or elsewhere.

Tackling regulatory problems head on

Some argue that it’s no longer appropriate to challenge the FDA or European authorities if they decide to impose pieces of legislation that restrict our freedom or access. They say that that these restrictions are borne out of conspiracy by world governments that aims to control people (including through genocide). The loss of sovereignty is part of this control mechanism. I personally live in Europe and the extent of the loss of national sovereignty of European countries over the last two or so decades beggars belief. As far as a genocide agenda goes, I haven’t seen any evidence of direct genocide being perpetrated by European institutions, but I see clearly how people are needlessly dying through a mismanagement of their health courtesy of the dominant, western, allopathic medical model.

I think many of us would tend to agree that globalisation is responsible for a loss of national sovereignty. The world is being increasingly divided up into large trading blocs, such as the European Union, or NAFTA, G20, APEC, the CAIRNS Group, ASEAN, and others. This is especially bad for our continued access to effective natural health products produced by smaller companies, that generally make the best products. These trading blocs basically want to do things that are good for the big businesses that have created them in the first place.

So, we agree that the restrictions come out of plans coordinated by some of the world’s most powerful governments, their agencies and of course a clutch of transnational corporations (oligopolies). We also likely agree that these forces find the notion of us managing our own health by natural means a complete anathema. They love the idea that we eat junk for much of our lives and then become ever-more dependent on their patented drugs. But as the pharma companies’ pipeline of new drugs wears thin, and as the patents for many of Big Pharma’s biggest earners begin to expire in the coming years, there is an ever greater incentive for them to grind down the non-pharma sectors of the natural products industry.

An example of this is the recent fanfare around a licensed drug which is nothing more than three synthetic B-vitamins that aim to help Alzheimer’s patients. The recent public announcement of a trial confirming the drug’s effectiveness was accompanied by lots of media recommending that consumers don’t go and get the folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 from their health stores. See how it works? It’s a shrewd game-plan that allows pharma to now step into the area that was predominantly occupied, from a retail and distribution perspective, by non-pharma players.

How we campaign

We are a natural health campaign organisation. We therefore campaign to protect and promote natural health. To do this we obviously need to engage with the political system, but to put to the top of our agenda a desire to change the political system itself would be an odd thing to do given our status. It would also be difficult to get a clear consensus on what ways to change the political system, given that natural health is essentially a non-partisan issue. I am neither aware of any consistent, single political view held by most natural health product consumers, nor am I aware of any significant political group that proposes that natural health should be the primary model in healthcare.

Where laws impede our fundamental rights and freedoms in relation to natural health, whether it’s our access to products, the practice of natural medicine or what we can say about natural health products, that’s where we are particularly active.

Social and political campaigns have the ability to join together all the special interests that are impacted, whether these relate to the distortion of our food supply, unjustified restrictions on our access to natural products, increased cultivation of GM crops, or, for that matter, any other relevant health, social, economic or environmental issue.

We like to think of ourselves as a bomb disposal team. We find out where the epicentre of the problem is and bring to bear a team of highly experienced people all working to minimise the damage that could otherwise be caused. As the word ‘Alliance’ in our name suggests, we work with others with shared interests as much as we can. The main tools we use to help us to do this work are what we refer to as ‘good science’ and ‘good law’. We believe that so many of the problems we face in the field of natural health are caused by the manipulation of science and the abuse of the legal system. We use this approach because it seems to work. Our track record, visible on our European and US sites, shows you what we’ve achieved.

We recognise it’s not the only thing that needs doing, and we appreciate the work being done by political campaigns that share a common interest. I should add; we don’t subscribe to or condone any political activity that promotes violence or inspires hatred. There are a few out there that think this is the way to go, but we strongly disagree with them.

What we campaign about

Here's a bit of a taster that looks at the sort of things we at ANH are campaigning for. These issues are actually clearly set out in the pages of our European and US websites.

But here are some of the things on our wish list. We want maximum freedom of choice when it comes to access to natual health. We would like to see a complete re-structuring of the way medicine is taught in medical schools. We want to support integrated systems of medicine that rely on predominantly biologically-compatible approaches to healthcare. We support the use of modalities that work with, rather than against, our physical and energetic bodies. We want to see a wide diversity of natural health foods and products on the market that help individuals to take responsibility for their health, either with or without support from practitioners. We want to see a completely new scientific and legal framework for natural health that protects, rather than bans, the most useful and most effective natural health products and information about them. We want people to understand the importance of avoiding genetically modified foods. 

And what don’t we want? We don’t want to see traditional medicinal systems that have been evolving in places like China and the Indian subcontinent for millennia, crushed by misguided, over-precautionary regulation. We don’t like the idea that fluorosilicates, industrial waste from the fertilizer industry, are put in the public water supply to supposedly reduce tooth decay. There are better, less harmful ways of looking after our teeth that don’t involve putting industrial waste into every cell of our body. We also don’t want to see people being harmed by low frequency radiation from cordless and cellular phones, just because telecoms companies don’t want to pay to make their technology safer.

While doing our work we often get asked who else we work with. We really have worked very hard to build strategic alliances with those whose goals overlap with ours. This creates synergy that can deliver outcomes that are more than those which could be achieved if we worked separately. Conversely, there are some groups who share some of the same views on natural health with whom we don’t work, simply because to do so would be counter-productive. This includes those who promote aggressive or oppressive means as a way forward.

Strategic approach

The final issue that I will turn over in this blog is the idea of running multiple tactical strands to counter any one threat. If there’s a bad law or bill out there, we say it can be a good idea to try to have it repealed or, if it has yet to see light of day, have it killed before it’s implemented.  But because there’s a good deal of probability involved in your success over any particular challenge, we generally like to have a fall-back plan if at all possible. This might involve working to remove a particularly noxious or threatening law, or a provision of the law, or it might involve creating an amendment or even a minor tweak that neutralises a specific provision. Sometimes we might run several of these approaches together. Some people seem confused by this multiple stranded approach, as they can’t understand why we might both work to bring down a law while at the same time working to change  it. They say that if you engage with the system in any way, you are party to it. We completely disagree and work for the best outcome we can get, bearing in mind there is no absolute certainty that any one tactic will be successful.

Good examples of our multi-stranded approach to specific challenges include the work we’ve done over the years on the EU’s Food Supplements Directive in Europe. First we tried to block it altogether, something we had just 2 weeks to do from a standing start as I founded ANH for this very purpose in early February 2002 and the law narrowly made it’s way through second reading in the European Parliament later the same month despite a late swing against it that we worked hard to create. Once passed, we sought to challenge it in the courts and, after having it referred successfully by the High Court in London to the European Court of Justice, the ruling provided important clarification and simplification of the directive. The benefits of this are ongoing for many players in the industry, particularly those reliant on natural sources of vitamins and minerals. Right now we are continuing to fight a petition to block the European Commission proceeding with a deeply misguided approach to harmonising maximum levels of vitamins and minerals EU wide.

We’re now doing it again with our collaboration with the European Benefyt Foundation  aiming to protect non-European forms of herbal medicine that could otherwise be banned as of April 2011. Yes, we’ll need all the help that we can get, and anyone who feels strongly about this, whether or not you have a personal interest in Traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda or other forms of herbal medicine, please consider donating to our legal fund (please mark your donations ‘EU herb challenge’ in the PayPal comments section).

In the US, we use a similar approach. For example, we have opposed both the House and Senate Food Safety Bills because they threaten honest food and supplement producers with jail and will tend to drive small producers out of business and create even larger, industrial farms. But despite opposing these bills, we were able to change a vital provision of the  Senate bill that would have committed the US to global harmonization of  food and supplement standards through the guidelines and standards of Codex Alimentarius. So, while we continue to oppose the passage of the Food Safety Bill, you can rest assured that, if the bill does pass, its final form will be significantly better than if we’d done nothing.

So, there you have it, a little sketch that I hope helps to lay down a general marker about our guiding approach and philosophy here at the ANH.

We’re always interested in your feedback, so please let us know your thoughts.

Its crazy that natural foods, herbs etc are being squeezed out and replaced by man-made drugs and supplements that cause us so many side effects.

For more help and advice on natural health, please visit my blog. Natural Health Benefits

very good and excellent article on natural health. Informative

I have great appreciation for your work and approach. Since I am unable to find it on this site, I would like you to consider working with William McDonough who initiated the 'Cradle to Cradle' design that is abroad approach to making things good, not less bad. He has numerous influential contacts and could perhaps help in achieving your goals. A good impression of Mr. McDonough's pattern of thought you may obtain at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEyYFYDBhW0

Warm Regards,

Chris Mekern

Kevin - thank you for your thoughtful and kind comments. They are always appreciated. For those who don't know Kevin or his work as a filmmaker especially in the field of health freedom, please check out www.kevinmiller.com. His film WE BECOME SILENT, narrated by Oscar-winning British actress Dame Judi Dench (can be seen online at: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/we-become-silent) remains probably the best video on the subject. Kevin, the very best to you.

Thank you for presenting a balanced overview of issues we face with our health. For many years, I have argued that while doctors and other practitioners in Europe have more freedom to apply what they believe to be most effective, their access to herbs and supplements is significantly more restricted than in the U.S. or Asia. Ultimately, this impacts patients because it takes quite a lot of resourcefulness to obtain what is wanted. Overall, we could say that medicine is in professional hands but the enormous range of natural products found in the U.S. is lacking.

This said, European food and water is probably slightly less hazardous than here and health awareness remains very much a matter of personal inclination and initiative. Protecting the public from measures that would preclude many from ever finding what they need when they need it is a lofty mission and you are to be commended for your dedication to the welfare of those who depend on keeping the information avenues open and maintaining the supply of gifts from Nature.

Best wishes!

You are of course right. But while the legislation in Europe is in the process of becoming much more stringent still, the US is under increasing international pressure to harmonise in the direction of Europe. The FDA (having seen their approach at Codex meetings) is fully supporting this!! See what Scientific American is doing: http://www.nutraingredients.com/On-your-radar/Health-claims/FDA-should-c.... It's a slippery slope, and we need very strong scientific arguments, together with heavy pressure from the public and those parts of the medical and scientific community that are onside, to make sure we keep the door open on as many useful, natural and therapeutic products as possible.

After hurriedly reading through your thesis, I am impressed by the depth and scope of your proposed "revolution". I join with many many others in applauding your efforts and motives.

Sir Isaac Newton, remember him? he got beaned on the head with an apple, said, "Simultaneous with the destruction and decay of an existing civilization emerges, from the chaos and rubble, a new civilization." I hope I have quoted that correctly.

At the risk of being considered a Bible thumper - I am not one! but some relevancy to what is happening in our society to what was revealed many years ago - "Thou shalt have none other Gods before me." Maybe it's not by chance that is the number one commandment - history teaches us that when that commandment is obeyed, that society flourishes. When that commandment is substituted for, that society is on an unstoppable down-hill ride. The "chaos and rubble."

It is obvious that our society has a very seductive substitute for the first commandment - materialism. Bear witness. We all agree that education is desirable for young people. Our concept of education is "Learn to earn." We teach this with absolutely no understanding how the manipulated children are being seduced into blighted lives. Learn so that you can get a good job so that you can get money is what is being taught to millions of children. Is there any REAL happiness in a fat bank account? No, only momentary diversion.

Try this - teach a little child how to tie his or her shoes. This is an unforgettable experience that will bring happiness, not only at that time but also every time one is reminded of that simple act.
How about this - learn to become a more effective servant of humanity? That produces a lifetime of happiness. Which is more important - happiness or money? And, if there is such a thing as life after this life, exactly what does one bring along?

So far as economics goes - The formula for having enough to to live is incredibly simple and is produced on every coin and piece of currency in USA - "IN GOD WE TRUST." I am presently 82 years old and have known this simple formula all of my life and have never had it fail. I have not found any compelling reason to abandon nor to modify that formula.

Oh come on, Johnathan, we all know that God is not capable of handling our economics. He just is not able to do anything of significance in the field of economics. He probably doesn't have even an Associate Degree in economics. So there is no logic in trusting Him. So goes our society. And yet, our present economic condition was caused by a spiritual sickness - selfishness. and, it appears that those who advocate cures have exactly the same motivation. Isn't this making a virtue of blindness?

And, of course, He was only joking when He said, "Thou shalt not steal. We all recognize the joke, don't we?

The emergence of a new civilization - a gradual process, a dynamic, calling upon, causing the creation of a new race of men who define themselves as servants of humanity The cause is a true dynamic, this is not pie in the sky.

This new civilization is/will be based upon one thing we have never had - JUSTICE. The cause - the same cause (dynamic) that causes every movement forward by society. We call this power God. His Will is the cause. He says, "Be." and it is. The effect is always to our benefit even if we do not perceive it at the time.

You see with your eyes, hear with your ears and understand with your understanding. I suspect you would not want to try to hear with my slightly deaf ears or see with my poor eyesight even if it were possible. So, and this is only a suggestion - get involved in a search for a dynamic that is for the benefit of all humanity and not just for now but for 500,000 years into the future. Whether you take this suggestion or not, is strictly your decision and, I have no right, nor does anyone have the right to interfere with your independent search for truth.

Maybe my comments are a little wide of the mark of your thesis. Many apologies, if so.

Absolutely with great respect

Johnathan

Johnathan - not wide of the mark in the slightest. As far as I am concerned, anyone who is spending time considering a higher purpose, is on the right track. Those who seek things that not everyone understands, and is prepared to allow the higher senses to guide them, is also on the right track. You must feel good being where you are right now! Best wishes for your continuing journey. And thanks for expressing your thoughts and feelings. Best, Rob

This was brilliantly prepared and written. As one who cares about medical freedom of choice, one of my incessant anxieties has been that often times, the LOUDEST voices—the ones who spam and deceive and manipulate the populace into donating hard-earned sums of money—are the very people who do the very LEAST for real health freedom.

I have not always agreed with ANHs strategies (being a filmmaker I believe media should be employed more powerfully to illustrate the challenges we face), but I have never questioned Dr. Verkerk's honesty, energy, or motives. He is, despite the incantations of a few angry souls, the epitome of a freedom fighter. I know this personally, not only because I interviewed him for my 2005 film about Codex called WE BECOME SILENT, but as a result of hundreds of hours of conversations since the film appeared.

Don't get me wrong—there ARE bad people out there in the movement: people who boast about their so-called "accomplishments," but whose aim is to basically trick consumers into supporting their schemes and shell games. This comes about because people in the "movement" have become inherently lazy...and they think that if they throw a few dollars at these tricksters that "the problem will be solved."

Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing gets accomplished by waiting on the sidelines for "others" to cure the problem. There are very few health freedom groups we can trust to do what they say they will do, but ANH is clearly one of them.

What you can glean from Dr. Verkerk is a very unique blend of scientist and activist. He is aware of the challenges we face, from nanotechnology to GMOs, to unelected bureaucrats who want to dictate what substances we can put in our own bodies—and in exactly what amounts.

Hopefully we will see more scientists become activists...and there will be additional voices lent to the opposition of the mad course we are currently on. But in order to understand who is telling the truth—and who is possibly scamming you...PLEASE do some research, for God's sake! Google a few names and keywords. . .and voila! The truth will appear. Be an INFORMED consumer...not a lemming.

I thank Dr. Verkerk and ALL of the legitimate organizations who fight for medical freedom of choice throughout the world.

Kevin P. Miller
Writer/Director
www.KevinMiller.com

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