Codex Alimentarius and the EU Directive on Herbal Medicine

matrix animMany people are recognising that new legislation concerning food and health, under the guise of ‘safety’ and ‘harmonisation’, is structured to limit our choices and access to natural foods and alternative medicines.

New drugs are becoming hard for the chemical industries to find – not to mention expensive to develop. So why not just patent nature – take what we have away from us using legislation – and then sell it back to us for profit? After all this is a way capitalism has worked for years.

Codex Alimentarius is a perfect example of the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers, industry and state working together for their exclusive mutual benefit and shows how governments are increasingly the lackeys of big business. Codex Alimentarius and the EU Directive is making legislation in Europe that effectively gives control of our foods and supplements, such as herbs, vitamins and ‘natural’ treatments into the hands of big business to do with as they will.

According to John Hammell, a legislative advocate and the founder of International Advocates for Health Freedom (IAHF), here is what we have to look forward to:

“If Codex Alimentarius has its way, then herbs, vitamins, minerals, homeopathic remedies, amino acids and other natural remedies you have taken for granted most of your life will be gone. The name of the game for Codex Alimentarius is to shift all remedies into the prescription category so they can be controlled exclusively by the medical monopoly and its bosses, the major pharmaceutical firms”.

This limiting of choice takes place under a licensing system. A practitioner or manufacturer of foods or supplements must produce under a licence, within the guidelines of that license, or they will be ‘struck off’. Often the requirements for that license are so complicated and expensive that small-scale operatives are unable to set-up in business or continue to operate if that already produce or apply ‘treatments’. A fast and effective way to eliminate competition.

It is still difficult to find ‘definitives’ as to how the new legislation will actually work. Some people claim that, for example, prescribing onion soup as an aid to health will become an illegal act. The complexity of the process is leading to all sorts of interesting conspiracy theories. Perhaps the most practical commentary I have seen comes from Steve Dagnall of Baldwins, a supplier of all things herbal in London.

“Many customers are asking how the EU Directive on Herbal Medicine will affect them when it comes into force at the end of April this year (2011). The honest answer is that at this precise moment it’s not entirely clear, as many of the fine details have not yet been worked out. Our best guess is that most dried herbs will still be available but that most, if not all Herbal Tinctures will disappear from retail sale. However this will not happen immediately as the legislation allows us to continue to sell through any we have in stock at the end of April. We would hope to have sufficient stock of all the Tinctures to enable us to meet all our customers’ needs in to 2012”.

It seems the new licensing system prescribes what is and isn’t a ‘treatment’ to those acceptable by the corporations in control – effectively banning whole realms of, sometimes experimental, sometimes traditional interventions. Even the most common plants like peppermint and garlic come under this legislation.

At the same time, people are wising-up to the effectiveness of what were once called ‘simples’ in traditional folk medicine and their powers for health management. In the middle-ages in Europe the practitioners of this type of medicine were literally ‘burnt at the stake’ as part of social cleansing and religious persecution. This ‘burning of the witches’ robbed us of a truly important role, most often practised by women, of the local village healer.

This aspect of our lives is now controlled by the sometimes misplaced authority of doctors who, far too often, promote the products of big pharma over more simple remedies because if they don’t, they are liable to be ‘struck off’ under their own licensing system for promoting unscientific, untested and unproven treatments. The elimination of local healers and ‘wise women’ was also part of the separation of ‘spirit and physic’ which is a root cause of our doomed capitalist system.

Perhaps unwittingly this oppression opens the doors to two very important factors in a ‘post-capitalist economy’: mutuality and gardening. As people rediscover traditional techniques for growing and using plants in health management for themselves, they will not need the ‘tainted’ products of pharmaceutical industries. I believe that people will increasingly share their discoveries with each other. The powers that be have so far failed to regulate the free flow of information and the democratisation of knowledge so valuable on the internet and through the many courses and sources on these subjects.

Although licensing also effects the sale of seeds, it hasn’t yet stopped the simple sharing of seed between people in social networks. Although genetic manipulation has highly questionable and wholly unpredictable effects on nature it hasn’t yet reached the many wild and common plants at the heart of simple and effective remedies that can be grown even on the smallest windowsill, collected from the wild and made in a kitchen.

So my prediction is that Codex Alimentarius will eventually have entirely the opposite effect intended by those who seek to exploit nature for personal profit. In the same way that ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, many people, once they understand why their choices are being limited, will reclaim the responsibility for their own health from the profit motives of Big Pharma. So far there is no legislation that can stop people walking out to the countryside to pick wil plants – or to stop them growing and eating their own healthy foods and herbs at home, although Monsanto and other drug companies certainly have designs on changing this situation. So with this in mind I have written and published a book called ‘WildFood Wizard’.

WildFood Wizard by Simon Mitchell

WildFood Wizard by Simon Mitchell

Read ‘WildFood Wizard for wonderful recipes and medicines from the wild or from your garden. Nature’s gifts are truly versatile. Aches and pains, bites, burns and scratches, stomach upsets, tiredness, bloat, insomnia, colds and flu – you name it there is already something in your kitchen that will help.

One way to a greener lifestyle starts at home in the kitchen! Here’s holistic thinker and wild food enthusiast Simon Mitchell with a radical new book that celebrates the awesome power of natural foods for managing your health.

Reach for a holistic lifestyle from the heart of your home, the kitchen. Discover for yourself the power of Mother Nature’s Gifts, a real integrated medicine working for you from your very own kitchen. Hiding in your meals, is a whole food medicine for health, for healing and for fun!


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  1. Pingback: Home made Valerian Tincture | Nettle Soup

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