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free access to herbs to be destroyed by European law

Comment 2nd July 2010

The government should take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that the EU's Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), due to take effect in April 2011, does not destroy the British public's long-standing cultural tradition of freely accessing native and ethnic herbal medicines.



Why does this matter?

This is a complicated issue with many strands, but unless the government acts, the fact is that the European Union's Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) is set to drive a coach and horses through the British public's long-standing tradition of freely accessing herbs, by imposing an expensive and restrictive licensing regime that is unwarranted, and lacks an evidence-base to demonstrate why it might be needed.

I understand that one challenge to the implementation of the THMPD in the UK is already planned.

Others may be set to complain to the European Court of Human Rights, on the grounds that the Directive would constitute both racial and religious discrimination, as the use of herbs is part of both ethnic and religious practice here in the UK. This may not be the case in other EU countries, where no such tradition exists, but this is Britain. The Directive, and certainly its implementation in this country, would also appear to be in contravention of the Treaty of Rome, which refers to the maintenance of traditional cultural practices in member states, and to the encouragement of the preservation of diversity.




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