by Zoltan Rona, MD, MSc - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"The Federal Advisory Panel has just completed the second meeting in Ottawa, and I feel that if the momentum and direction can be maintained, we have every reason to believe that by this time next year, we in Canada may well have one of the world's most progressive regulatory schemes."
member, Federal Health Minister appointed
"Advisory Panel on Herbal Remedies" (15/9/97)
The "moratorium" on herbal remedies which delayed the implementation of site licensing fees and other oppressive actions by the Canadian Health Protection Branch (HPB) against the public's access to herbs and other nutritional supplements is a hoax. The so-called "Advisory Panel on Herbal Remedies" was created to deflect media criticism of a growing list of HPB abuses that included the Hepatitis C and HIV contamination of transfused blood scandal, the failure to remove toxic drugs like nifedipine from the market despite evidence of deaths, the mercury amalgam safety scandal and many others (see my well-circulated article, "Top Ten Reasons to Ban the HPB" on the Internet (http://www.pnc.com.au/~cafmr/online/freedom/index.html). History shows that herbal advisory panels, and there have been at least two in the past decade in Canada, have never been taken seriously by the HPB and that none of the recommendations made to such panels by herbalists and other health professionals has ever been implemented.
While Del Anderson, one of the members of this phony Advisory Panel, was singing the praises of a new attitude of conciliation and cooperation within the HPB favouring herbs, on September 10, 1997, 12 armed HPB and RCMP members, wearing bullet proof vests, raided the warehouse of Upper 49th Distributors, the B.C. branch of a small national sports nutrition import distributor/wholesaler. Armed RCMP officers ran in, pointed a gun at the manager, began interrogation and incarcerated the manager and three other employees of the company, all of whom were detained at a local RCMP station and formally charged with violations of the Food and Drug Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
All company stock, computer hardware, invoices, customer lists, Cory Holly's research material and library were confiscated. Everything involved in the operation of the company was removed by the RCMP/HPB thugs. The list of charges against Holly and others included conspiracy, fraud, trafficking in drugs and smuggling. Simultaneous raids were executed by a total of 50 RCMP and HPB officials at the head office of Upper 49th Imports in Winnipeg and their affiliates in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. HPB flew out the RCMP raiders from Winnipeg to Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver and put them up for a week in hotels before the raid at taxpayers' expense. This small business, for all intents and purposes, has been temporarily immobilized and at least 30 employees were traumatized and personally affected. While Del Anderson denies HPB involvement in this raid, legal documents and the hotel bills clearly indicate otherwise.
The complaint to HPB about Upper 49th's products originated from a competitor and not from consumer complaints. According to Cory Holly, well known and respected author and consultant for Upper 49th Distributors, everything sold by this company is classified as a food with approved bilingual labels. All the items sold by Upper 49th are available without prescription at any health food store in the U.S.A. and many health food stores and gyms in Canada. In fact, Health Canada, acting on the original competitor complaint, inspected and approved all of Upper 49th's product inventory about a month prior to the raid. In other words, the HPB inspectors came, inspected and left without any concerns about Upper 49th in August, 1997.
The Advisory Panel on Herbal Remedies is top heavy with appointed (unelected) prominent Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom (CCHF) spokespersons like Chanchal Cabrera, Donna Herringer (president of the Canadian Health Food Association) and Dr. William LaValley, former president of the Canadian Complementary Medical Association.
These "experts" all seem to be willing to play ball with the HPB as well as prominent nutraceutical manufacturers. None have ever gone on record to oppose the banning of melatonin, DHEA, natural progesterone cream, boron, amino acids or any other products of vital health benefit to Canadian consumers.
Other members of the Advisory Panel, like pharmacist Meera Thadani, as evidenced by recent hostile letters to Alive magazine, are on record as being strongly critical of the natural health product industry and biased in favor of HPB policies. Not a single member of the Advisory Panel is a member of Freedom of Choice in Health Care or other groups strongly opposed to the creation of a 3rd category of nutraceuticals (quasi food supplements) advocated so enthusiastically by the Coalition.
On a personal note, I have been besieged by hundreds of individuals who had been under the impression that I had been silenced by forces beyond my control. After all, I was no longer publishing articles in industry journals like Natural Health Products Report. The rumour that several prominent members of this Advisory Panel have made a point of attacking me in writing or threatening to withdraw their advertising dollars from health journals publishing my articles is indeed true. This happened shortly after my picture appeared on the front cover of Country Health a few months ago. Both Country Health and Alive magazines were threatened by certain Coalition/Advisory Panel members with loss of advertising revenue as a direct result of my articles.
Dr. William LaValley also showed his true colours by angrily phoning me two months ago threatening to withdraw the support of "the people who would be most able to help you" should I ever find myself in the same situation as Dr. Jozef Krop, a medical doctor currently being disciplined by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons and partially financed by Coalition members. Disagreement with or criticism of the Coalition agenda, especially by me, it seems, is verboten. Why should I or anyone else trust a group that attempts to silence its critics with threats of harm?
As the mumbling Mounties and the bumbling HPB bureaucrats were thrashing Upper 49th Distributors for dispensing harmless food supplements, thousands of Canadians' lives were in jeopardy from HPB legalized killers like nifedipine, cigarettes, alcohol, terfenadine (Seldane), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and countless others that have never been confiscated in a raid by the RCMP.
The use of guns, physical force, verbal threats and other forms of intimidation to destroy individuals and businesses are the characteristics of a terrorist. So is the uneven application of laws suppressing natural remedies in the pretence of "protecting the public". Terrorists should not be supported. Further, history has repeatedly demonstrated that negotiating with terrorists leads to disaster. What works best is mutiny and loud opposition until the terrorist is rendered impotent. Fooling around with wishy washy 3rd category solutions and phony herbal advisory panels is not only a waste of taxpayer money but a cruel hoax perpetrated on the general public looking for real leadership in saving access to herbs and other natural therapies.
How can this mutiny on the mounties be brought about successfully? Use your voices, pens, paper, fax machines and e-mail to protest the phony work of the Advisory Panel on Herbal Remedies to your local federal member of Parliament and the Federal Minister of Health. Protest the raids on natural health product distributors. Who the hell do they think they're fooling? Consider supporting the growing number of lawsuits being launched against the HPB by those businesses that have been extinguished unjustly by these terrorists. For more information on what you can do to get involved in a meaningful way, contact:
Debbie Anderson and Randy Gomm
Citizens Voice For Health Rights
9110A Young Rd., S., Suite 129
604-793-9087; fax: 604-793-9017; firstname.lastname@example.org
Marilyn Nelson and Bruce Johnson
Freedom of Choice in Health Care
5863 Leslie St., Suite 711
Victoria Hogan at 604-987-8296; email@example.com
ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc.
1466 BATHURST ST. SUITE 305
TORONTO, ONT. M5R 3J3
Advisory Panel on Herbal Remedies. Health Action, September, 1997 (available from Health Action Network Society, #202 - 5262 Rumble St., Burnaby, B.C., V5J 2B6; 1-888-432-4267).
Anderson, Del. Personal communication. September 15, 1997.
Holly, Cory. Personal correspondence from Upper 49th Distributors (B.C.); fax: 604-444-5175.
Thadani, Meera. Correspondence to Alive magazine and Alive magazine Advisor. May, 1997.