Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive Petition: Answers to Questions
Many questions are asked and comments made about the Stop the THMPD petition, and people need to be answered. This page responds to many of them.
by Heidi Stevenson
16 November 2010
As the author of the Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) petition, many questions and concerns about it are posed to me. The petition has gained momentum—a thrilling development!—but it leaves me without time to properly respond to each person. So, with regret at the loss of personal correspondence, this is intended to provide answers to most questions and concerns.
Questions and concerns are listed below. Clicking on one will take you to the response. You may also scroll through the questions and responses below.
All translations have been done by generous and passionate volunteers. If you can provide a translation, please contact me, Heidi Stevenson. You can help make this campaign a success!
The information that the EU requires petitioners to provide is currently not clear. Parliament and the Commission have different views on the issue. The petition is set up now to meet all requirements that Parliament would place on signers. The Commission would require signers to provide personal IDs, such as national ID or passport number. Though it's exceedingly unlikely, it is never possible to completely assure the security of a website, nor is it possible to assure full security of information on paper. Because of this, the Stop the THMPD petition does not ask for an ID number, as it can be used in identity theft.
Since some people who support the petition do not feel they should be required to provide all information the EU wants, it has been set up to allow signers a choice. If they wish to assure that their signatures will be counted, then providing all requested information is strongly suggested. Signatures are accepted without all requested data, but it must be understood that they may not (and probably will not) be counted among the million required for presentation to the EU, though they do help add support for the cause, as do signatures from non-EU people around the world.
Obviously, EU requirements for petitions—including a million signatories—are extreme and invasive. It's very difficult to believe that the intent is to allow the average citizen full democratic rights. For more, see The EU's Draconian Citizen's Petition Requirements. Is anyone out there interested in starting a petition on this issue?
Sadly, this is no longer true. The UK is supposedly governed by Common Law, which is generally interpreted as allowing anything that is not specifically forbidden. However, upon joining the EU, this point of law became moot. The EU's directives must be followed by all member nations. (See the next response for more on this.)
Because EU member states must enforce all EU directives, they are required to adhere to THMPD. For a case in point, refer to this petition asking the Prime Minister of the UK to oppose Codex Alimentarius proposals, which garnered over 62,000 signatures last year. Then, look at the government's response, which states, "In the UK, food supplements are regulated under the European Food Supplements Directive 2002/46/EC which came into effect in the UK in 2003 and has applied since 2005." You can expect equivalent responses to any such petition addressed to a member nation.
First, it needs to be understood that the effect of THMPD is not included in the Directive itself. It reads as if it were for the benefit of the people. However, a simple exercise will demonstrate that the wording is misleading. If you read paragraph (4) on page 1 of the Directive(1), you'll see that one of the goals is to "provide a special, simplifed registration procedure for traditional medicinal products." While that sounds honorable and beneficial, the question needs to be asked: How can rules that either did not previously exist or had not previously been implemented be simplified? This is a nonsensical statement; yet it is one of the reasons put forth for THMPD's existence. This is the EU's first registration of herbs.
Others have investigated this issue at length. Whatever the statements made in THMPD, the results are sure to have drastic and disastrous effects on the people.
See EU Declares Peppermint a Controllable Herb for an example of what's being done in anticipation of medicinal herb regulation. See References below for more information.
No, it has not. In writing Stop the THMPD petition, I reviewed EU petition requirements, and then wrote it as best I could. If an attorney should be willing to donate his efforts to review it, I—and I'm sure all petition signers—would be grateful.
As it stands, the petition is written to clearly address the directive involved and state exactly what the petitioners want. We want Directive 2004/24/EC to be stopped. Surely, this is clear and concise. However, if changes can be made that would help assure that it won't be denied on a technicality—and also would not change the meaning of the original wording—they would most assuredly be implemented.
There has been a great deal of confusion on this point, and it has caught me up. Directive 2004/24/EC was enacted on 31 March 2004, so it seemed that the final effective date was to be seven years later, 1 April 2011, as has been widely reported. That, though, was not the case. The directive took effect on the date it was first published, not when it was enacted. The date of publication, which can be seen in the upper left corner of the Directive, is 30 April 2004. Therefore, the final and full implementation date is 30 April 2011.
April Fool's Day makes more sense. Then we could just call it a big—and very bad—joke.
The simple answer is that I did ask Avaaz to take this on. They refused. As a result of starting this petition, others have asked them too, with results that are no better.
Several issues were considered before choosing GoPetition. It was necessary that they have the ability to collect all the information that the EU requires. Most sites do not. I also needed to be sure that the site could handle the number of signatures required, a full million. GoPetition appeared to have that ability, having successfully handled a petition that garnered more than half a million signatures. The petition site needs to have the ability to manage signatures from multiple nations, such that the nationalities can be obtained, and most sites are focused on single nations. There were several other, less obvious, criteria that most sites could not meet.
GoPetition was selected with as much care as possible.
Why not me? I could not find a petition out there that can accomplish the goal of stopping THMPD. There are many others, and it would have been far easier to select one and support it. Unfortunately, each one falls short in a critical area. There is no reason to avoid signing any of them. I have signed others. However, to be effective, a petition must meet certain standards:
That method was tried recently, with the effect of, at a minimum, hundreds of messages going to MEPs. Unfortunately, the responses were inadequate, clearly indicating—almost across the political spectrum—either ignorance of the potential effects of THMPD or genuine support of it. Ultimately, it became apparent that another approach is required.
While I support the lawsuit, as I support all sincere efforts to stop this abrogation of our rights, I believe that the best approach is for people to take the issue into their own hands. A petition seems to me to be our best hope of gaining the goal of completely stopping THMPD. This petition takes the stance that the entire THMP Directive is wrong and should be stopped. ANH's lawsuit accepts the basic concept of controlling access to herbs. Their position paper discusses a model for a "regulatory framework" to control access to herbs. Nowhere, though, is an explanation or documentation for such a need given. It hasn't been needed before now, so though I believe that ANH's approach is better than nothing, a petition saying that the THMPD should be stopped better addresses the issue and the people's rights.
Perhaps it is. However, the intent is to show a reversed—and therefore incorrect—international banning symbol, a circle with a reversed bar, in front of a common and useful herb (thistle), with the words, "European Union" on the bar to indicate that THMPD would devastate the people's ability to obtain herbs. Superimposed on that is another, nonreversed—and therefore correct—banning symbol to indicate that The People intend to bar the EU's attempts to control our access to medicinal herbs.
For better or for worse, at this point the logo seems to be firmly linked to the Stop the THMPD petition.
A deadline has not yet been set. The reason is that we don't yet know if we can achieve the required number of signatures before the THMPD goes into full effect on 30 April 2011. If so, then the deadline will be set for a short time before that date. If it seems that we cannot accomplish the goal in time to stop the implementation of the directive, the wording of the petition would still have the same meaning and implication after that date. Though it would be preferable, of course, to stop THMPD from going into full implementation, late is better than never, so the petition may remain open.
Though I had great hopes when starting this petition, it didn't seem realistic that we could actually garner the million signatures required. As explained above, I took it on because someone needed to, and no one else was doing it.
However, in just a month, the pace of signing has grown enormously, and it now is clear that the goal is truly attainable. To that end, I needed to assess the situation carefully. It's taking a huge amount of my time. The effort needs to move to the next level. It needs to be coordinated and managed. When the signatures have been gathered, they must be sorted and prepared for delivery. It must be promoted. The currently unsettled status of EU petitions must be monitored. Questions must be answered. A huge amount of work must be done. So, it's become necessary to seek donations.
Why should you trust me? Because I've spent hundreds of hours in a couple of month's time to make this happen. Because I'm passionate about this issue. Because I'm staying on top of the requirements for presenting a petition to the EU. So your time, effort, and money is not wasted.
It's entirely understandable that people worry that their donations are spent honestly and wisely. The reality is that the bulk of donations to most charities ends up wasted. A huge portion of each donation is spent to collect more donations, to pay enormous salaries, and frittered away on nonsense. The term charity has become more a joke than a reality. The formal designation of charity generally means little more than money staying within the organization—but it says nothing about the efficiency of spending.
Every penny received for the Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive petition will go towards the cause. I will account for every penny that comes in and goes out. I promise to use every penny to the best purpose possible.
This is a genuine grassroots effort. There aren't millions of euros behind it. There is, though, the will of the great masses of people in Europe and the world. I truly believe that this petition is the best way to make the EU—and the rest of the world—see that people are not going to sit back and let their rights be pulled out from under them.
But even a grassroots effort takes money. So won't you please help with a small donation? The time to stop this abrogation of our rights and the devastation of the health of huge numbers of people is growing near. Please, help assure that we will continue to have free access to herbs and that we can continue to choose the means by which we manage our health. Is any right more sacred?
A Plea to Sign the Stop the THMPD Petition
Is this the world you want? Are you willing to give up your right to manage your health as you see fit? Are you willing to allow a pharmaceutical-controlled agency to determine whether you may sell or have access to herbs? If that's what you want, then do nothing.
However, if you want to see this draconian direction stopped, then please, sign the Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive petition. The EU has not made it easy to petition the government for changes in laws or directives or procedures. They require that a petition have at least a million signatures before it can be presented.
Let's give them a wake-up call! Let's get those signatures! Let's assure that the EU comes to realize that this is not something we're willing to accept, that we will stand together and Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive!
Would you make a donation to the cause, please? Any amount would help. Thanks!