Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Freedom to Choose

In Australia, individuals generally enjoy great freedoms in the matter of self-medication. This has not, however, been achieved without a certain vigilance and, on occasion, vigorous political action. There were a number of attempts made during the 1980s and 1990s to limit the availability of over-the-counter vitamins and health supplements. Strong public reaction to proposed changes in legislation resulted in a backing-down of those forces intent on controlling public access to these forms of self-medication.

There are similar battles currently being waged on the European front. In May this year, Theo Chalmers from Edge Media brought together two health activists in the UK in order to discuss present developments. Chalmers, an obviously sympathetic interviewer, chairs a two hour discussion held in May 2010 with Dounne Alexander, founder of Joining Hands in Health, and Robert Verkerk of the Alliance for Natural Health group.

Dounne Alexander gives an account of the difficulties she experienced in her attempts to produce and market a herbal product in the UK. According to her account, the product appears to have a rasayana-type restorative and regenerative action and a possible anti-tumour effect. Confronted by high levels of bureaucratic and administrative obstruction, and realising that powerful forces were operating behind the scenes, she started Joining Hands in Health as a public lobby group.

Robert Verkerk is an agricultural ecologist with a special interest in sustainable health care systems based on naturalistic rather than biomedical approaches. Verkerk is a highly informed and articulate presence who brings intelligence and discernment to the discussion. His discussion touches on matters such as vaccination programs, genetic modification of agricultural crops, the nature of natural medicines and his present contentions with the US Food and Drug Administration.

The discussion between Theo Chalmers, Douanne Alexander and Robert Verkerk has been conveniently broken up into 14 consecutive episodes which can be easily watched or listened to over a few days for those who may be interested in such matters. It is available here.  

Thanks to Buzz Robertson for this lead.

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