Review our latest letter emailed and posted to all current MPs on the 18th Aug 2015. The current Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill is about to undergo its third and final reading with broad support. This bill is no better than the TGA bill that failed to pass into law several years back, and it delivers the opposite of what was outlined in the Joint Industry Proposal as agreed to by the Minister of Health in May 2009.

Open Letter to all NZ MPs from Health Freedom NZ
It must be remembered that the function of Parliament is not only to pass good laws, but to stop bad laws”.  Winston Churchill.

The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill is about to undergo its third and final reading with broad support. We doubt that there is an MP in the house that realises the harmful consequences that Bills of this nature harbour.

The Natural Health and Supplementary Products bill is Bad Law. And Bad Law has bad consequences.

It is bad because it lacks all the basic principles of good law-making, namely balance, appropriateness, and proportionality.

Furthermore, it delivers the opposite of what was outlined in the Joint Industry Proposal and agreed to by the Minister of Health in May 2009.

The Ministry has found it impossible to set aside its pharmaceutical mind-set when drafting this Bill despite having been given 5 years to deliver a Bill reflecting what was outlined in the Joint Industry Proposal and agreed to by the Minister of Health in May 2009.

The result is that we have ended up with a Bill to regulate NHPs that was written with a pharmaceutical mind-set to maintain a pharmaceutical mind-set. Unfortunately for the NHP industry that mind-set includes a very strong determination to maintain at all costs a 90 year old de facto prohibition on the use of NHPs for therapeutic purposes.

The Ministry’s website summary of the Bill reveals as much. It states:

As with any regulatory regime, the Natural Health and Supplementary Products regime addresses risk. There are three main risks associated with natural health and supplementary products:

RISK # 1: The ingredients of the product could be unsafe. These risks are addressed by ingredients being selected from a large permitted list.

While the ‘permitted list’ approach is certainly warranted for Pharmaceutical products, NHP ingredients are officially recognised as being safer than food ingredients. Their risk status is classed as de minimus – i.e. ‘inconceivable or fanciful’. Re-classifying these ingredients as ‘illegal unless permitted’ is a very good way of hamstringing the NHP industry but it defies all principles of appropriate and proportionate risk management.

The Bad Consequences of making safe ingredients ‘illegal unless permitted’ is that you create other, very serious risks – namely the risk of harm resulting from denied access to ingredients that are not on the list. This form of risk is known as ‘Harm by Omission’ (HBO).

The Bill does not recognise the risk of HBO caused by denied access, and neither do the Australian and Canadian Health Bills upon which this approach is modelled. In doing so the authors of the Bill reveal that:
(a)   They hold the view that Natural Ingredients have nothing to offer in terms of significant health supporting properties , or
(b)   They hold the view that if there are Natural Ingredients with significant health supporting properties; any harm caused by their absence (up to and including death) is of no concern to them. * As confirmed by Health Officials in Court: See attachment 1.

Viewpoint (a) can best be described as institutionalised extremism, ignorance or prejudice.

Viewpoint (b) speaks for itself. Incredibly it has been adopted by Health Canada Officials in enforcing laws of a similar nature that were unwittingly voted in by your counterparts in Ottawa. (See attachment 1) I am sure we can all agree that they had no intention of causing consequences of this nature.

NHP ingredients should be on a Notified list, as outlined in the Joint Industry Proposal and agreed to by the Minister of Health in May 2009

RISK # 2: Where a condition more appropriately requires treatment by a registered health practitioner. These risks are addressed by controls on health claims, labelling and advertising.

The authors of the Bill regard consumers who wish to make their own informed NHP health choices as being at risk of missing out on the treatments available within their pharmaceutical mind set.

So although the Bill does not recognise the risk of HBO caused by denied access to NHPs, it classes the risk of HBO caused by consumer preference for NHPs as a risk that is serious enough to demand legislation that will remove our right of access to safe ingredients that are not on the permitted list.

In holding this view they reveal that they expect Parliament to recognise the ‘Harm by Omission’ principle in terms of Risk #2, but to deny the existence of the very same principle in terms of Risk # 1 (b).

If parliament is to apply the principle of ‘Harm by Omission’ in the legislation it must do so in a balanced manner. The Bill in its current form lacks that balance and reveals the pharmaceutical bias that is inherent in it.

The proposed controls on health claims, labelling and advertising will enable the perpetuation of the de facto prohibition on the use of NHPs for therapeutic purposes.

The NHP industry should be able to make truthful statements about their products.

Health claims, labelling and advertising should be regulated as outlined in the Joint Industry Proposal and agreed to by the Minister of Health in May 2009.

RISK # 3: Products could be manufactured in an unsafe way. These risks are addressed by setting appropriate manufacturing standards.

Absolutely. Appropriate manufacturing standards should be regulated as outlined in the Joint Industry Proposal and agreed to by the Minister of Health in May 2009.

The JIP was drafted at the request of the Minister of Health designate, Tony Ryall. It was designed to create a level playing field for the NHP industry, freeing it from the severe and arbitrary constraints it has endured for over 90 years from legislation created by bureaucracies with Pharmaceutical Industry mind-sets.

Many Governments the world over have in the past relinquished their responsibility to adequately scrutinise legislation relating to medical issues, in doing so they have helped to create laws that have made healing a crime.

The resultant harm as exemplified in attachments 1 and 2 is incalculable in terms of human suffering and missed opportunity to investigate and develop the hundreds of life saving discoveries made over the past 90 years that were not allowed to see the light of day thanks to the sorts of laws that are proposed in this Bill.

If it were Parliament’s objective to enact a NHP Bill that is balanced, appropriate, and proportionate it would not support the Bill currently before it. A parliament is no more or less than the sum of its MPs. In light of Churchill’s warning, every MP has the obligations of a juror when voting on a Bill of this nature.

* Attachment 1. A documented example of the harm caused by denied access to safe ingredients.

* Attachment 2. Another tool that a ‘permitted list’ makes available to regulators in enforcing their mind-set is the ‘Missing Link’ approach. Just as you can destroy a chain by removing just one link, you can remove a Natural Health Product from the market by keeping just one of its ingredients off the permitted list. People like Rene Caisse also had to spend her life risking arrest and possible imprisonment for healing people using non pharmaceutical means for ‘practising medicine without a licence’.

When the licence holders abuse their position to maintain their monopoly, everybody loses.

We need our MPs to realise it is time to decriminalise healing. 

Heather Howes
Spokesperson, Health Freedom NZ