Is this regulation not about quality control of herbal medicine?
That is what the pro regulation lobby are trying to make you think. In reality we have two distinctly different issues which they are trying to interweave to fool you.

1. Regulations on the quality and available of herbal preparations:
a) Regulation of the quality of manufactured Herbal preparations has been an ongoing process for some years. Herbal manufacturers already have to submit to some stringent regulations on quality control and on ingredients. Quality control of manufactured remedies is fine as is quality control of herbs imported from far flung countries. However, the detailed checking of such imports is rarely enforced at the points of entry as was shown up a couple of years ago over contaminated herbal powders used in foods. That is an aspect that badly needs tightening up, but of course that costs the Government money!

It is contaminated herbal imports that gave the MHRA the ammunition they needed to draft their regulations. These were products which UK traditional herbalists did not use. In the days when most herbal medicine in the UK was our own traditional system, the herb importers had the highest expertise in quality control. They knew where the herbs they imported came from and had a detailed knowledge of what to be on the lookout for, including chemical and microscopic testing.

b) Control on the quality of herbs gathered in the wild in the UK, or grown and prescribed by a traditional practitioner with thousands of years of knowledge to draw on is another thing. Do we really want to be told what hedgerow we can't gather from, or that the overworked understaffed Environmental Health departments must monitor what is picked and prescribed?

2. Regulation of the practitioners:
This is an issue that it is claimed is being forced on us by European legislation. However, no one has checked if that legislation may not be applicable to the UK, under the treaties which our government signed.

The pro regulation lobby intentionally confuse the two issues by constantly referring to the European policy documents which have nothing to do with practitioner registration such as the 'Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (2004/24/EC)'. As with practitioner regulation, it is open to debate as to if the EU Directives can legally be forced on the UK due to our traditional systems enshrined in existing legislation. This clause in the Treaty of Rome is key to this:

2. "The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the CONSTITUTIONAL TRADITIONS common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law".

Article 3.

(o) a contribution to the attainment of a high level of health protection;

(p) a contribution to education and training of quality and to the FLOWERING OF THE CULTURES of the Member States;

In the UK, freedom of health care provision is part of our cultural identity. Therefore any activity that threatens that is suppressing not supporting the flowering of the cultures.

There are several other clauses in these fundamental Treaties that set up the European Community that may affect our unique traditional legislation over herbalists. The huge problem with the EU is that they appoint unrepresentative advisory committee's (often without real experts on what they are examining), who then draft regulations without any input from the trades they will affect. The European Commission is an anti democratic organisation that does not even comply with its own constitution, yet the UK Government seems happy to simply slip into existence their badly drafted laws without proper Parliamentary scrutiny. Our laws are now being drafted and discussed in the EU by non expert committees with little if any input from the sectors of society that their recommendations will affect. Please see the Cropwatch web site for some great examples of the way the EU committees work.

Back to Articles