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Ireland: Will Food Supplements Directive influence vote on EU Treaty?

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From the Irish Association of Health Stores

PUBLIC VIEW FOOD SUPPLEMENTS DIRECTIVE AS REASON TO VOTE 'NO' IN REFERENDUM ON EU TREATY

14 Sep 2007 - At a public meeting about the Food Supplements Directive held in Dublin on Wednesday and attended by over 100 people, serious concern was expressed regarding the control being exerted over the lives of Irish citizens by the EU. Politicians, consumers and nutritional therapists were among those attending.

MEP Kathy Sinnott, who addressed the meeting, commented that the EU "is about economics" and stated that experts attached to EU working groups are frequently sourced from industry, resulting in victory for vested interests.

Citing her own personal experience of restoring the health of her son, Jamie, by the use of supplements, Ms Sinnott expressed the view that the impact of the Food Supplements Directive could lead to a monopoly by the pharmaceutical industry. She commented, "Commissioner David Byrne, whose 'baby' the FSD was, pushed ahead with this directive at a time when government policy was to entice the burgeoning pharmaceutical industry into Ireland, since both agriculture and tourism were on the wane."

Elaborating on the need for supplementation of high levels of many nutrients nowadays, President of the Irish Association of Nutritional Therapists Anne Darcy explained that depleted nutrient levels in the soil have resulted in our food being seriously compromised nutritionally.

While it is common veterinary practice to supplement the diets of livestock with nutrients such as selenium and cobalt, Ms Darcy commented: "It is quite shocking that humans are going to be denied access to the levels of nutrients necessary to compensate for the nutritional inadequacy in common foodstuffs under this directive." She added "There has to be something wrong with a system that acknowledges the problem of nutritional deficit in our foods and on the one hand endorses supplementation for animals, while on the other hand bans citizens from being able to meaningfully supplement their own diets."

Commenting on our over-burdened health service, Ms Darcy said: "If we were a nation of physically and mentally healthy people, with empty doctors' surgeries and hospitals, then there would be no need to have health food stores where people come searching for the way to return normal function in their lives."

A consumer campaign is currently being run throughout the country, petitioning both the Irish government and the European Commission to ensure continued access to the higher level supplements that have been available for 40 years in this country, without any record of serious side effects. Over the past six weeks, more than 100,000 people have signed the petition.

Jill Bell, President of the Irish Association of Health Stores summed up the feelings of those present at the meeting: "Outrage about the Food Supplements Directive has reached such a pitch now that it looks likely that the 2.5% of the population who have signed the petition will be unwilling to give a 'yes' vote in the referendum to be run on the EU Treaty." She added "The Food Supplements Directive seems to have stirred a hornet's nest in relation to people's feelings about the EU. People are becoming angry about the degree to which Brussels is interfering with our basic freedoms."

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