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SEPTEMBER 23, 2008, TORONTO, CANADA - On the heels of the recent attempts to severely restrict and further regulate natural supplements and remedies through legislative Bill C-51 in Canada, the increased concerns regarding the US Food and Drug Administration's revisions of the cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices regulations) and ongoing concerns over the severely restrictive European regulatory regime on natural health products, an unprecedented two-day conference concluded last Friday with the formation of an international scientific and legal task force. The mandate given to the task force was to intervene strategically to preserve the public's right and access to natural health, including vitamin and mineral supplements, traditional herbal medicines and the healing arts.

Experts at the conference identified striking similarities in regulatory strategies to restrict access to natural health products and truthful claims about them in a number of different regions of the world.

There was consensus among the conference's experts that some of the greatest challenges included regulators exceeding their legal authority, ignoring court rulings, overstating and skewing human health risks associated with the use of natural health products, discriminating against traditional medicinal cultures and censoring truthful health information.

Participants at the meeting included renowned constitutional lawyers, Jonathan Emord from Washington DC and Shawn Buckley from Kamloops, British Columbia, along with internationally acclaimed health scientist, Dr Robert Verkerk, executive director of the Alliance for Natural Health, based in the UK.

The Toronto conference was sponsored by consumer groups and sectors of the natural health community concerned that the restriction of natural health products is a global phenomenon and is not restricted to single areas such as Canada, the United States and the European Union. The conference and the establishment of the expert scientific and legal task force itself was particularly pertinent considering the recent decision by Canada and the United States to further negotiate harmonization with the European Union.

Organizations represented at the meeting included the Alliance for Natural Health (Europe/international), the Natural Health Product Protection Association (Canada), the Canadian Natural Health Coalition, American Association for Health Freedom (USA) and Truehope (Canada).

Key participants in Task Force (left to right): Ian Stewart, Rick DeSylva, Shawn Buckley, Helen McLellan, Dr Robert Verkerk, Benjamin Middleton. Julia Rickert, Jonathan Emord and Peter Helgason.