Guest Post: Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive!

The people of Egypt have taken to the streets en masse to protest for democracy. We have the pleasure of living with that freedom, but often forget how easily it can be lost. Our politicians become less responsive to the electorate as they become more and more beholden to moneyed interests.

GoPetition, though, helps provide a voice to people, allowing them to assemble on a cause and providing a forum to impress upon legislators that their interests are best served by acting for their constituents' benefit. A more subtle value is to provide people with a means of discovering how many others hold the same views -- thus giving them heart to participate.

The newly-minted European Union has been acting in favor of the desires of Big Pharma and against the interests of the people. The EU Parliament passed Directive 2004/24/EC, also known as The Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), that purports to provide for the health and safety of citizens by taking control of their access to medicinal herbs. The THMPD, while claiming merely to "simplify" the registration of medicinal herbs, will effectively ban most of them and limit sales to only large, usually multinational, corporations.

As the producer of Gaia Health, it is apparent to me that the loss of access to medicinal herbs would prove exceedingly harmful to people who use them to manage their health. It's also obvious that herbal treatments are virtually always far safer than their drug equivalents and often more effective.

After investigating the issue, I wrote an article on the topic, Big Pharma Scores Big Win: Medicinal Herbs Will Disappear in EU, urging people to write to their Member of European Parliament (MEP). And write they did!  Hundreds of letters went out.

But then the responses started to come back. What a letdown. Nearly every MEP responded as if the letter writer were utterly misinformed. Typical responses were:

  • "No one wants to take your herbs away!"
  • "The directive just simplifies the registration procedure."
  • "We are trying to assure that herbs are safe."

The reality is that none of these statements is true. Whatever the intended purpose of the THMPD, the effect will obviously be to remove access to most medicinal herbs from most people. The suggestion that the purpose is to "simplify" registration is absurd on its face, since there was no functioning registration system until the THMPD. Medicinal herbs are so much safer than pharmaceutical drugs that it makes the concept of concern for danger downright absurd.

So what was left for people to do? A big voice was obviously required. Other than taking to the streets, that meant a petition. So, I investigated. The requirements for a European-wide petition are large. After a significant amount of research, it became obvious that only GoPetition has the ability to manage the Stop the THMPD's requirements. The flexibility, history of handling petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures, and their concern for the integrity of petitions and their authors made GoPetition the obvious choice.

After 85,000 signatures, the Stop the THMPD campaign is developing momentum. A true grassroots effort, the petition's growth is to the credit of people who are passionate about their their right to manage their health as they see fit. It's been translated into 14 languages! Articles are being written, duplicated, and translated all over the world.

Our right to obtain the herbs of our choice, an inalienable right held since humans began to walk the earth, is under attack. What right could be more basic than the right to manage one's health? It's so basic that no one ever thought to delineate it along with the right to free speech and assembly.

Now that it's under attack, we, the people of the European Union, are standing up and saying, "No! You will not take over control of our bodies. You will not force us towards pharmaceuticals and away from nature. This is where it stops. We demand that no law limit our access to medicinal herbs."

Everyone who cares about civil and personal rights should care about this issue. Even if you don't use medicinal herbs, you must ask what you do care about that could come under control. Access to vitamins and supplements? Prevention of GMOs? Access to foods of your choice? All of these are under attack in the EU. Let's stop these incursions into our personal lives.

Please, join the Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive campaign. Be part of the movement to take back control of our lives!

For more information, see:

Translations of the Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive Petition (links to translations and articles)

Contributor: Heidi Stevenson