Liberate medicinal plants!

The European regulation EC 230/2013 of the 14th March 2013 “withdraws from the market” (which means in concrete terms – makes illegal the use of, the stocking of or the commercialisation of) for either all animal species (those products listed in annex A of the regulation) or specified species (those in annex B of the regulation) many preparations made from a huge number of plants useful in the promotion of good health and of which a large proportion can be found growing in the natural grassland grazed by livestock.

The Regulation EC 230/2013 also specifically “withdraws from the market” numerous “essential oils” which do not exist – oils which are extracted from non-aromatic plants. Such biological abhorrences and approximations demonstrate clearly the level of competency of the “experts” given the task of dismantling the traditional and natural alternative products and practices.

In recent times aromatic and medicinal plants, including those with long histories of traditional use and no safety concerns, have found their availability and usage systematically restricted and impeded by the blanket application of very heavy-weight regulations drafted in an attempt to ensure the safety and efficacy of newly created synthetic medicines. This regulatory framework is completely inappropriate and draconian when imposed on traditional medicinal products already well known to be safe and efficacious.   

Download the press dossier in .pdf format “Natural health in livestock farming threatened by EU laws” (translated from “La Santé naturelle en élevage menacée par le droit européen”) from the Documents and links page.

After the regulation THMPD (Traditional Health Medicine Products Directive, CE 24/2004, which came into effect in 2011) which severely restricts the use of plants in human health, the RCE 230/2013 withdraws from the market more than 600 plants used in the form of extracts or essential oils in livestock – by grouping them together with a long list of chemically synthesised flavourings and feed additives.

In conformity with the current medicines regulations, the therapeutic use of plants (i.e. for the treatment of disease) is not authorised in the absence of a Market Authorisation for the preparation in question.  The procedure for obtaining the MA is extremely onerous and costly – and therefore disqualifies straight away freely available medicinal plants which intrinsically have no economic interest for the body seeking Market Authorisation – no legitimate possibility for patents and therefore no commercial exclusivity).

The use of plants in livestock rearing WAS allowed for within the legislative category of flavourings and aromatic additives for feedstuffs. With the RCE 230/2013, this legal possibility has disappeared for a huge number of traditionally used plant extracts and essential oils.

The regulation clearly goes against the principles of Sustainable Development in livestock farming as well as the principles and practices of Organic Farming (and indeed against the recommendation and requirements within the European Regulations which govern Organic farming practices). It is an anachronistic blow to the progress made and needed for the ecological transition towards sustainable farming practices for the future.

It is also in total opposition to the current major public health objective of reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock farming – which aims to reduce the effects of the ever increasing problem of antibiotic resistance in the health of all species (humans and other animals).

It severely restricts the possibilities for farmers to master the health of their livestock with natural and efficacious products which pose no danger to the animals, to the farmer, to the consumer or to the environment (products of “low concern”). The alternatives to the chemically synthesised pharmaceutical medicines find themselves shackled and fettered for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry – a situation which is completely contrary to the needs and expectations of farmers and consumers alike. 

The legislators and experts of the European Commission seem not to be subject to:

  • Legal ethics (this regulation is a denial of democracy, of the expectations of society, the needs of the European citizens and the freedom of choice of health practices)
  • Transparency (absence of credible justification for the regulations and opacity of the experts tasked with the drafting thereof)   
  • The primordial need to respect the imperatives of the living world. The legislator seems unaware of the vital importance of the respect of ecological balances, the interests of future generations, the necessity for an agriculture more respectful of the environment, the benefits of the reduction in the use of antibiotics and chemically synthesised products on livestock farms, in our food production and in the environment in general.
  • A requirement of professional competency the RCE 230/2013 makes illegal numerous plant substances which DON’T EXIST – such as essential oils made from non-aromatic plants!

The language used in the regulation is explicit: the European Commission “withdraws from the market” hundreds of aromatic and other plant extracts of traditionally used plants (which have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years in human culture) and gives “Market Authorisation” to medicines coming out of the pharmaceutical industry…

In addition to the authoritarian restrictions imposed on the traditional usage of medicinal plants, there is also a disturbing movement towards the appropriation and exploitation of traditional medicines by industrial groups seeking to profit personally from the collective social heritage of ancient cultures – the Amazonian tribes, the Aboriginals of the Canadian forests and traditional Iberian communities….. While the research and dissemination of traditional knowledge and practices would be highly commendable in itself, as would be a freedom to manufacture, sell and use such products without restriction (with the condition that the manufacture didn’t pose a threat to the ecosystem – for example by leading to the over-exploitation of rare species) for the collective good. The use of this information as a basis for a flurry of industrial patent applications which aim to restrict the use of such preparations and practices for the sole personal financial gain of the corporate patent-holder, however, is an abhorrent abuse of the confidence relationship forged by the ethnobiologists with the cultures they have chosen to study. 

Look at the petition against the RCE 230/2013 and the confiscation of our collective, inalienable natural resources of the living world here [Link to petition]

Go to the page Collective action against the confiscation of the living world